League One outfit Crewe Alexandra were handed a heavy defeat at the hands of Premier League outfit Aston Villa on Friday night.
The lucrative friendly for the Railwaymen was organised to celebrate the progression of academy graduate Ashley Westwood, who earned a £1 million move to Villa Park last August.
Paul Lambert chose Westwood as his skipper for what was to be an action-packed first half, but it was another player who stole the headlines.
After recently doing a U-turn and withdrawing his transfer request to sign a new four-year-contract, Aston Villa’s star striker Christian Benteke grabbed a hat-trick in 13 first half minutes against the Alex.
Villa’s first pre-season win came after defeats at Luton and draws at Wycombe, Bochum, Paderborn and Wigan.
South Cheshire turned out to be a happy hunting ground for a certain 21-year-old Belgian forward, who revelled in front of a strong following of 2,000 Villa fans at Gresty Road.
The scoring was opened by Andreas Weimann, who slotted home a superb goal from long-range taking Steve Phillips by surprise inside two minutes to the delight of the travelling support.
No less than 10 minutes later, Villa doubled their lead as the brilliant Benteke applied a cool finish after unselfish play from Villa’s Austrian forward Weimann - whose great run and cross resulted in the Villains ramping to a 3-0 lead.
Benteke doubled his tally shortly before the half hour mark as he capitalised on an incisive pass from Karim El Ahmadi.
He exemplified his talent as he went on to complete his hat-trick shortly after cutting in from the left and firing a strike across the Crewe 'keeper.
Crewe pulled one back before the break with a close-range finish as centre-back Harry Davis converted from Ryan Colclough’s corner.
The fast-paced tempo was disrupted in the second half as Lambert made 10 changes to his team on the 60th minute in which everyone except Leandro Bacuna was substituted.
Meanwhile, Crewe also made nine substitutions throughout the course of the final 45 minutes in an effort to test all their players’ fitness levels.
Bacuna sealed the victory with a fifth, seven minutes from the end as he cut inside and smashed home an emphatic shot into the top corner, leaving substitute Alan Martin with no chance.
Crewe boss Steve Davis admitted afterwards: "There was a gulf in quality in the first half and we were four goals down within half an hour.
"They were a class outfit with some really talented young players out there. They were rightly applauded off after an hour and rightly so."
Speaking to Crewe's official website, Davis continued: "Their movement, especially in the final third was different class and any mistake we made was punished.
"That is the level these players have to try and aspire to and I told them that after the game."
Despite their hammering, Davis remained upbeat and was keen to draw on the positives from the entertaining encounter.
"I said they should use it as a positive.
"They need to work hard on the training ground and try to improve as players. They have to work on it and try and reach that level, like Westy (Ashley Westwood) has."
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