Following the sides poor display at Goodison Park on Sunday, Martin O’Neill would have been glad to see captain Gareth Barry return to the squad. The team lined up with Brad Guzan in goal and Nicky Shorey at left back which in turn, allowed Luke Young to revert to his preferred position of right back. Craig Gardner being pushed forward onto the right wing in the absence of James Milner.
The game started off well with Villa have the majority of the chances attacking towards the North Stand. Shorey and Ashley Young linking up particularly well down the left flank. After a few chances escaped the Villa, CSKA broke with a cheeky one-two which played Vagner Love through on goal and he took the chance really well. Guzan couldn`t prevent it, whether Friedel could have done better in the situation is up for debate I am sure.
The second half began with no changes for either side. Again Villa looked the better side, Gardner and Luke Young provided crosses from the right while Barry and Ashley Young provided them from the left. Carew and Agbonlahor both had a few opportunities but nothing looked likely to provide an equaliser.
Until the 69th minute, when a great combination of Agbonlahor, Barry and Ashley Young provided Big John Carew with an opportunity which he took superbly, firing home from just outside the six-yard box to make it 1-1.
Villa continued to press forward but were unable to get a second and the game finished one-a-piece.
6 – Had little to do during the game, could maybe have done better with the goal, and did spill a shot late in the second half.
7 – Looked composed at the back and linked up well with Gardner down the right, good to see him in his natural position.
7 – Played well, will have benefited from being given this start, a player just low on confidence in my opinion and looked solid all game.
6.5 – Didn`t have much to do, but dealt with everything thrown at him with minimal fuss.
6 – Big Zack is one of my favourite players, think he has really stepped up to the plate in Laursen’s absence. Thought he was a bit shaky early on, but was his solid self for the rest of the game.
6 – Had a decent enough game out of position, Gardner has stepped into Reo-Coker’s role as utility man. Would love to see him play in the middle though.
7 – Poor against Doncaster and Everton, back to old self in this match. Linking up well with Barry, Carew and Gabby. Had a good game.
7 – Once again had a solid enough game, doesn`t put a foot wrong these days, Villa were very attacking today and he doesn`t get involved in that play too much, hence the low ratings, others will disagree with me on this one.
9 – Man of the match performance, was involved in everything, tonight was further evidence of what a big player he is for the cause.
7 – Carew took another step towards getting back to his best, the clubs top goalscorer last season took his goal really well, and he and Gabby looked good together.
8 – Did very little of note in the first half but looked superb in the second, did miss a couple of chances. Not sure he is goalscorer we need but on this performance you wouldn’t drop him.