Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor underlined his case for an England recall as he scored his fourth goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Wigan at Villa Park.
Agbonlahor has fallen out of favour with England coach Fabio Capello after briefly breaking into the Italian’s squad two years ago, but on this form he looks good enough to regain his place.
After being frozen out by former Villa boss Gerard Houllier, Agbonlahor has been revitalised under new manager Alex McLeish this season and he opened the scoring in the first half before providing the assist for Darren Bent to score the second after the break.
Only a series of fine saves by Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi prevented Villa – who are still unbeaten in the league this season – from winning by a more emphatic margin.
Fourth bottom Wigan only threatened after the introduction of former Villa midfielder Shaun Maloney in the final quarter of the game and have now suffered four successive league defeats.
Villa were the first to threaten with Agbonlahor making a powerful run but his eventual shot was deflected into the hands of Al Habsi.
A deep ball into the Wigan box from Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov was headed by Bent into the path of Agbonlahor but he was unable to keep his shot down.
Bent was looking sharp and it needed a fine save from Al Habsi to keep Villa on level terms when he chested down Barry Bannan’s pass and shot from close-range.
It came as no surprise when Agbonlahor put Villa ahead after 36 minutes.
Stephen Warnock won possession and found Bannan, whose ball over the top was seized on by Agbonlahor.
He turned inside Gary Caldwell before lashing a powerful shot past Al Habsi from 15 yards.
Agbonlahor began the second half in the same vein as the first and almost doubled Villa’s lead within 60 seconds.
A mazy run took Agbonlahor past Emmerson Boyce, Ben Watson and James McCarthy and his curling shot beat the dive of Al Habsi but flew inches wide.
Wigan had claims for a penalty rejected after a challenge by Alan Hutton on Franco Di Santo.
But Villa were soon back on the offensive and Al Habsi produced another excellent save to keep out Bannan’s curling 20-yard drive at full stretch.
Agbonlahor was a constant menace and after 62 minutes he created the second goal for Bent.
He made a 50-yard run down the left flank before sending over an inviting centre which Bent side-footed past Al Habsi into the corner of the net.
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