Crewe 1 Aston Villa 5 - match report
Christian Benteke smashed a hat-trick and Andi Weimann made a goalscoring return as Aston Villa ran riot in a 5-1 win at Crewe.
The Belgian striker's treble helped Villa to their first win of pre-season as their summer plans gathered pace at Gresty Road last night.
Weimann opened the scoring and Leandro Bacuna scored a second-half screamer in between Benteke's treble. Crewe's Harry Davis netted a consolation but Villa played with verve in a performance full of attacking threat.
Nicklas Helenius return to the squad after a back injury while Gabby Agbonlahor also made a comeback after a knee problem.
Weimann needed just two minutes to net after returning from the hip injury he suffered in the 2-2 draw at Wycombe last week when he buried a 25-yard strike past Steve Phillips after Karim El Ahmadi had a shot blocked.
Antonio Luna had a goal disallowed before Benteke grabbed his first of the night when Weimann burst down the right and squared for his striker partner to score from 10 yards.
The hitman scored his second soon after when he stole in behind the Crewe backline and beat the on-rushing Phillips. And Benteke completed a 34-minute treble when he cut in from the left and fired home.
Davis scored for the hosts four minutes after the break when Villa failed to clear and the Crewe man netted from the edge of the area.
Villa's momentum was not killed by their mass substitutions on the hour and Bacuna – the only man to play the entire game – completed the rout with seven minutes left when rattled in from 25 yards.
Villa (4-3-2-1): Guzan (Steer, 60); Lowton (Donacien, 60), Vlaar (Baker, 60), Clark (Herd, 60), Luna (Gardner, 60); El Ahmadi (Sylla, 60), Westwood (Sylla, 60); Bacuna, Weimann (Carruthers, 60), Agbonlahor (Robinson 60); Benteke (Helenius, 60).
A second-minute Rene Howe strike condemned Walsall to a 1-0 pre-season defeat at Burton Albion.
Howe volleyed home with less than 90 seconds on the clock of a physical encounter at the Pirelli Stadium.
Chris Hussey and Robbie Weir forced good saves from visiting keeper Richard O'Donnell, while Milan Lalkovic came closest for the Saddlers when he hit the post.
"It's what we needed to be honest, it's what we wanted," said Saddlers boss Dean Smith. "It was a really good test for us and a good 90 minutes for a few of them.
"We looked a little bit dull in the first half but in the second half I thought we were a lot better."
The Saddlers were missing several first teamers, who will instead feature today against a Nottingham Forest under-21s behind closed doors.
But even so, the manner of the goal was disappointing.
Howe could not have been more alone, with no Saddlers played within 10 yards of him when he volleyed home Hussey's cross.
The Saddlers' only efforts of note in the first period were long-range shots from Sam Mantom and Lalkovic which were easy for home keeper Dean Lyness.
Howe was still proving a nuisance after the break and his flick sent Weir clear but he was denied by O'Donnell.
From the corner the visitors broke, with Craig Westcarr eventually feeding Lalkovic, who drilled a low shot off the foot of the post.
O'Donnell tipped free-kicks from Matty Palmer and Hussey over the bar, while the unlucky Weir saw a shot from 20 yards out hit the post.
Burton: Lyness, Hussey, Delap (Edwards HT), Sharps, Bell (Knowles 61), Weir (Dyer 80), Howe (Symes 71), Reed (Palmer HT), MacDonald (Phillips HT), McCrory, Holness. Subs not used: Horton, Currie, Doyle, Harness.
Walsall: O'Donnell, Butler, Chambers A, Mantom, Lalkovic, Westcarr, Downing, Benning, Chambers J, Flanagan (Heath 68), Morris (Griffiths 87). Subs not used: George, Roberts.
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