FA Cup: Late Christian Benteke goal sees Aston Villa beat Blackpool 1-0
Last Updated: 04/01/15 5:13pm
Christian Benteke's 88th-minute strike saw Aston Villa edge Blackpool 1-0 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Belgium international striker fired an unstoppable volley past Joe Lewis in the closing stages of a largely forgettable encounter at Villa Park to sink the Championship side, who had defended well for long spells.
Villa, whose last two home games finished goalless, dominated possession for long spells, but struggled to create many chances of note until Benteke’s moment of magic in the final stages.
Shay Given had earlier made a fine saves to deny Blackpool's Andrea Orlandi and substitute Ishmael Miller, but Paul Lambert’s men are in the hat for Monday’s fourth-round draw.
Wary of an upset, Lambert named the likes of Benteke, Alan Hutton and Tom Cleverley in a strong home line-up, but a muted Villa Park crowd had little to shout about during a forgettable first half, with the hosts desperate and Blackpool comfortable.
Orlandi drilled a volley wide from Jamie O'Hara's corner after 27 minutes, as Villa passed the ball around neatly but failed to muster a shot on target.
Veteran goalkeeper Given, who was named ahead of the rested Brad Guzan, turned Orlandi's deflected effort wide 10 minutes before the break as the visitors grew in confidence.
Villa's final ball was woeful and the visitors' defence consistently managed to squeeze the life out of the hosts' pedestrian attacks. Cleverley fired well over and Benteke hit the side netting, but they failed to find a breakthrough and the home fans jeered their players off at half-time.
Blackpool would have been very happy with the pattern of the game and Villa had their first shot on target after 62 minutes when Carlos Sanchez fired at Lewis from distance.
It brought ironic cheers from the home fans and Villa nearly took the lead two minutes later when Lewis turned Benteke's volley on to the post.
It was the hosts' best chance and, seemingly inspired, they camped in Blackpool's half without making a breakthrough.
The visitors came close with nine minutes left when Given turned Miller's fierce drive over at full stretch.
But brave Blackpool's resistance was ended on 88 minutes when Benteke collected Sanchez's pass on the edge of the area and volleyed past Lewis to put Villa into Monday's draw.