Chicago Fire Fall 1-0 to English Premier League Side Aston Villa at Toyota Park
CHICAGO, Ill. – Taking a step away from league action, the Chicago Fire battled but were edged out by a 29th minute header from Gabriel Agbonlahor as the Fire fell 1-0 to English Premier League club Aston Villa Saturday night at Toyota Park.
The home side was put under pressure early but sustained well when Agbonlahor sprung free up the left in the 12th minute. The England international played a quick centering pass that picked out trailing midfielder Stephen Ireland but he put his first-time sliding effort just wide left of Jay Nolly’s goal.
Five minutes later Villa striker Andreas Weimann strolled through the Fire midfield but took one too many touches which allowed Nolly to come off his line and claim the ball.
The Fire responded in the 22nd minute as right back Dan Gargan hit a long ball, changing fields to put Marco Pappa in on goal but the Guatemalan international was adjudged to be just offside.
Weimann would test Nolly again in the 25th minute as he rolled up the right before unleashing a blistering effort towards the opposite post that the Fire ‘keeper put out for a corner kick.
The Fire finally succumbed to the Villa pressure in the 29th when Chris Herd placed a perfect cross into the box, picking out Agbonlahor who headed his effort inside the near post to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The home side nearly responded off a corner two minutes later when Alex’s take fell for defender Hunter Jumper but his diving header trickled just wide left of Shay Given’s goal.
Villa nearly went up 2-0 when a loose ball fell for midfielder Gary Gardner. The England U-21 international struck from 25 yards out but Nolly dove to his right to turn the ball around the post and take the Fire into the break, down 1-0.
It took both sides a while to create after a multitude of substitutions occurred inside the first part of the second half but second half substitute Barry Bannan would come closest when his quick shot from outside the area was well held by Paolo Tornaghi in the 73rd minute.
The Fire came close to equalizing with two chances inside the final 10 minutes. First, when substitute striker Dominic Oduro blazed up the left before cutting back and centering for Michael Videira. The veteran midfielder took a touch before blasting his shot just wide right of goal.
Into stoppage time, the hosts threw everything forward after Patrick Nyarko earned a late corner kick. Corben Bone’s service bounced around the box and eventually fell for Jalil Anibaba on the right before the second-year defender fired a quick blast but substitute goalkeeper did well to get behind it, earning his side the 1-0 victory.
The Fire return to league action when they travel to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m. CT live on NBC 5.2 and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes.
With the defeat, the Fire fall to 6-11-3 all-time in international friendlies.
The match marked the first time Fire goalkeeper Jay Nolly has appeared for the first team this season.
Nolly and second half substitute goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi combined for three saves in the losing effort.
Fire defender Steven Kinney was an unused substitute, suiting up for the Men in Red for the first time since an Achilles injury suffered in a 4-1 victory over Chivas USA on October 23, 2010.
Chicago Fire 0 – 1 Aston Villa FC
Chicago Fire: 1-Jay Nolly (70-Paolo Tornaghi 46’); 3-Dan Gargan (20-Tony Walls 69’), 23-Arne Friedrich © (13-Gonzalo Segares 68’), 22-Austin Berry (6-Jalil Anibaba 46’), 99-Hunter Jumper; 11-Daniel Paladini (21-Michael Videira 68’), 88-Rafael Robayo; 19-Corben Bone, 71-Alex, 16-Marco Pappa (14-Patrick Nyarko 62’); 15-Orr Barouch (8-Dominic Oduro 61’)
Substitutes not used: 28-Steven Kinney; 12-Logan Pause, 17-Pavel Pardo, 9-Federico Puppo
Aston Villa FC: 1-Shay Given (22-Brad Guzan 79’); 15-Chris Herd (2-Matthew Lowton 46’), 4-Nathan Baker (21-Ciaran Clark 57’) 5-Richard Dunne (6-James Collins 46’), 30-Eric Lichaj (3-Stephen Warnock 57’); 7-Stephen Ireland (28-Daniel Johnson 69’), 16-Fabian Delph (25-Barry Bannan 66’), 17-Gary Gardner (8-Karim El Ahmadi 66’), 10-Charles N’Zogbia (18-Samir Carruthers 69’); 11-Gabriel Agbonlahor (23-Nathan Defouneso 66’), 26-Andreas Weimann (14-Brett Holman 69’)
Substitutes not used: 13-Andy Marshall
AVFC – Gabriel Agbonlahor (Chris Herd) 29’
AVFC – Fabian Delph (caution) 48’
CHI – Daniel Paladini (caution) 49’
AVFC – Samir Carruthers (caution) 90+’
AVFC – Nathan Delfouneso (caution) 90+’
Shots: Chicago Fire 5 Aston Villa 14
Shots on Goal: Chicago Fire 1 Aston Villa 4
Saves: Chicago Fire 1 Aston Villa 1
Corner Kicks: Chicago Fire 3 Aston Villa 13
Fouls: Chicago Fire 9 Aston Villa 13
Offside: Chicago Fire 2 Aston Villa 2
Referee: Dan Fitzgerald
Assistants: Chris Strickland, Eric Boria
Fourth Official: Michael Kennedy