Benteke first half treble sets Villa on the road to pre-season victory
Premier League side Aston Villa proved too classy for Crewe Alexandra this evening as a first half hat-trick from Christian Benteke inspired the Villains to a comfortable pre-season victory at the Alexandra Stadium. The lethal finishing of the towering Belgian International demonstrated in emphatic fashion what it is like to be a leading scorer in the top flight.
Benteke got a close range tap-in and added two more before the half an hour mark with two more splendid finishes that gave Steve Phillips, in the Crewe goal, little chance of stopping them. Although big Christian was the stand out performer for Paul Lambert’s side, it was Andy Weimann who set Villa on the road to victory with a fine strike from over 20-yards out. Phillips got a glove to that one but couldn’t keep it out.
Benteke’s impressive hat-trick was brutally finished off on 28 minutes after he collected a pass on the edge of the Crewe Alexandra penalty area side stepping past Thierry Audel in the process, before curling it accurately around Phillips. It was finishing of the highest calibre and Crewe were left shell-shocked.
Captain on the night Harry Davis pulled a goal back before the interval with a very tidy finish before Villa's number 7 Leandro Bacuna completed the scoring with arguably the finish of the evening that dipped and swerved to deceive Alan Martin.
After Weinman and Benteke had set the early markers, Crewe tried to get some sort of foothold in the game and when we did have periods of possession, there were some encouraging signs. The 5-1 scoreline was certainly nothing to do with the work ethic of the Alex players but unable to get close enough to their counterparts, it became an uphill struggle in that first half.
Young Ryan Colclough shows flashes of his potential and Pogba had the physique to match up. He had a decent effort after cutting in from his wing position but he just dragged his final shot wide.
Ollie Turton produced a memorable cross field pass to Colclough that drew some warm applause from both sets of supporters and our former captain Ashley Westwood gave us an exhibition in possession football and long range passing. He was absolutely top drawer on his return to his old club and captained Villa on what was a memorable night for the Westwood household.
A slip from Ellis nearly let the rapid Gabby Agbonlahor in for another Villa goal but Phillips stood firm to make a save and Benteke couldn’t quite squeeze the rebound past an alert Davis. Antonio Rodriquez also had a goal disallowed after being offside in the second phase.
Westwood hit an unbelievable pass out to full-back Matty Lowton before Villa had Ciaan Clark booked for a late foul on Anthony Grant.
Crewe made a couple of changes at the break with Martin replacing Phillips and Mellor coming on for Audel.
over the bar before a wicked cross from Grant was collected by Brad Guzan as Davis and Ellis prepared to bounce at the far post. AJ Leitch-Smith curled an early free-kick just
Crewe upped their work rate in the second half and were better in possession. Credit to Villa though who continued to snap into tackles and really complete. They wouldn’t let Crewe settle on the ball in midfield but Crewe did keep the ball a lot better. Tootle tried to get forward when he could and Clayton made numerous clever runs to try and get in behind Vlaar and Clark.
Ryan Colclclough did get in behind on one occasion but was quickly put under pressure by Villa’s substitute goalkeeper Jed Steer and the chance was lost. Lambert completely changed his team after 60 minutes and Westwood left the pitch to a warm reception.
Crewe made a succession of substitutions too with trialists Luke Giverin and Nathan Ellington given another chance to stake their claim for a deal.
The scoring was completed in splendid fashion by Bacuna. He dropped his shoulder in front of Tootle before arrowing a shot past the diving Martin and into the top corner for 5-1.
Crewe: Phillips, Tootle, Audel, Davis, Ellis, Turton, Grant, Pogba, Colclough, Leitch-Smith, Clayton
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, El Ahmadi, Abbonlahor, Rodriez, Westwood, Benteke, Weinmann, Burke