Belfast Telegraph

Benayoun breaks Villa hearts

By John Curtis

Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2: Aston Villa winger Marc Albrighton scored the 20,000th goal in the Barclays Premier League but a late header from Arsenal substitute Yossi Benayoun earned his side victory at Villa Park.

Albrighton's milestone effort came nine minutes into the second half after a mistake by Gunners defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie had equalled Thierry Henry's club record of 34 for the most Premier League goals in a calendar year before Benayoun's 87th minute decider.

Villa defender Alan Hutton was sent off in injury-time for two bookable offences.

Villa have donated the £20,000 cheque from Barclays for the landmark goal to their official charity partner, the Acorns children's hospice.

The result was harsh for Alex McLeish's side, who produced their best home performance of the campaign, with Charles N'Zogbia having one of his more influential games.

But their inability to defend set pieces proved costly as Benayoun headed in a corner from Van Persie as Arsenal moved level on points with fifth placed Chelsea.

It was against the run of play when Van Persie put Arsenal ahead.

Clark tugged at the short of Theo Walcott inside the box and after referee Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot Van Persie hammered the penalty into the roof of the net.

Villa continued to do most of the pressing at the start of the second period and were rewarded on 54 minutes when Albrighton kept his cool to slide the ball wide of Szczesny.

Van Persie was booked for diving in the Villa box, Dunne made a vital interception to block a shot from Rosicky and substitute Andrey Arshavin had a shot deflected over the bar. But then Benayoun broke Villa's hearts.

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