Aston Villa won again in Texas, conquering the Houston Dynamo in a single-goal victory at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Having defeated FC Dallas 2-0 on Wednesday, Joe Bennett’s first-half header sealed the win against the Major League Soccer strugglers.
Houston haven’t tasted victory in the league since May, after a promising start to the season. They received a badly-needed boost this week though, with the double-signing of DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido, and although neither started here, the hosts looked full of confidence as they stroked the ball around in the early stages.
After crossing for Jermaine Taylor to volley over, Brad Davis had a great chance for himself in the 18th minute. Boniek Garcia’s pass dissected the Villa defence, and from a tight angle the United States winger forced Jed Steer into a stunning low stop.
At the other end, Fabian Delph shot wide and Bennett nodded over, but the Premier League side seemed happy to continue at a leisurely pace in the intense Texan heat.
Tyler Deric was then finally tested in the 40th minute, as he batted away Karim El Ahmadi’s swirling drive from long range.
However, there was nothing the goalkeeper could do 60 seconds later. The corner from the previous effort was never sufficiently cleared, and when Andreas Weimann whipped the ball back into the six-yard box, Bennett beat the offside trap to crash a header into the corner.
In the ten minutes after the break, both Darren Bent and Alan Hutton had multiple attempts, but Deric saved comfortably when called upon. Having taken a while to get going, the Lions were starting to dominate.
Substitutions took their toll on the match, but with ten minutes left, the Dynamo applied some pressure to the Villa back-line and forced consecutive corners. However, Darren Bent could have wrapped the game up on the counter. The England forward rounded the goalkeeper, but miscontrolled and the ball ran out for a goal-kick.
The one-time European champions came even closer in the closing moments, with Gary Gardner lashing a tremendous volley against the woodwork, the ball ricocheting to safety off Deric.
Though the Orange Crush escaped the concession of a second goal, they weren’t able to muster an equaliser and fell to defeat – a feeling that’s become all too familiar for Dom Kinnear.
Paul Lambert’s men will now return to England for a friendly clash with Chesterfield, while Houston look to get their campaign back on track prepare for the visit of high-flying DC United.