20 Most Meaningful Aston Villa Goals
Aston Villa are the fifth-most decorated football club in English history and have been involved in some terrific matches, scoring some of the most memorable goals.
But the importance and quality of a goal are hard to define.
Some are spectacular, long-range, aesthetically pleasing wonder goals that live long in the memory simply because they are just that—spectacular.
Others are well-worked, well-practised, intricate team efforts that carve the opposition open and are universally remembered because of the appreciation football fans have when the beautiful game is played at the very highest level.
These following 20 goals, however, are here because of their importance. They stand because of the influence they had on Aston Villa's future.
Some are goals that won silverware, whilst other are goals that ensured Villa's top-flight status.
Selecting 20 goals out of the thousands Villa have scored over the years is difficult, so if you can think of any I've missed, then please have your say at the bottom of the page.
20. Juan Pablo Angel vs. Chelsea, 29 October 2003
Not the most meaningful goal in Villa history by a long shot—in fact, it only came during a League Cup quarter-final—but Juan Pablo Angel's strike will live long in the memory of Villa fans.
The claret and blue took on Chelsea at Villa Park with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs and it was the Colombian who opened the scoring. Taking advantage of some shoddy Chelsea defending, Angel collected the ball inside the centre circle and tore down on the Blues' goal.
Skipping past the challenge of John Terry, Villa's No. 18 then angled towards the right of the penalty area before unleashing a thunderous strike into the top corner from 25 yards.
The goal sent Villa on their way to a 2-1 victory, though they were eventually knocked out by Bolton in the semis.
Angel's strike is often voted as one of Villa's all-time great goals.
19. Dalian Atkinson vs. Wimbledon, 03 October 1992
Dalian Atkinson scored a goal of the highest quality in Villa's 3-2 win over Wimbledon during the Premier League's inaugural season.
The Villa man recovered the ball deep into his own half and carried it forward, brushing off the challenges of four Wimbledon players as he neared the hosts' penalty area.
Atkinson had options left and right but instead opted to lift the ball over the helpless Hans Segers in the Wimbledon goal from outside of the box.
Atkinson's strike proved to be the game's winning goal and would have meant much more had Villa gone on to lift the Premier League trophy that year. Instead they had to settle for second place, finishing behind Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.
18. Christian Benteke Hat-Trick vs. Sunderland, 29 April 2013
A bit of cheating here as I've selected all three goals rather than just the one.
In truth, none of the goals was of particular quality, but Christian Benteke's hat-trick helped Villa to a surprising 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland. The victory was undoubtedly the turning point in the Birmingham-based side's season as they narrowly avoided the drop.
Villa's star striker, who inspired the hosts on a night when Sunderland were desperately poor, took his goal tally to 22 for the season with the hat-trick.
The victory gave Villa the belief to claim a win at Norwich the following week before collecting a point on the final day against Wigan to ensure their Premier League status.
17. Gary Cahill vs. Birmingham City, 16 April 2006
A dreadful season for Villa, who finished two places outside of the relegation zone, will always be remembered for one thing: Gary Cahill's wonder goal against fierce rivals Birmingham City.
The hosts went into the game having picked up just two points from a possible 15 and were looking like possible relegation fodder.
But, as they say, form goes out of the window when the local rivals arrive for a derby clash. And that is exactly what happened.
Villa claimed bragging rights with an impressive 3-1 victory, though Villa fans will only remember one of the game's goals. Young centre-half Gary Cahill restored Villa's lead with an acrobatic bicycle kick, sending the ball past Maik Taylor and Villa fans into delirium.
16. Andy Lochhead vs. AFC Bournemouth, 12 February 1972
Villa faced fellow promotion contenders Bournemouth in the old third division back in February 1972.
Villa stood atop the table on 40 points, while Bournemouth lay in second on 38 with a game in hand. The visitors took the lead through Ted McDougall, but in the 72nd minute, Geoff Vowden climbed highest in the box to turn home Chico Hamilton's centre.
A record Third Division crowd of 48,110 erupted inside Villa Park, the noise incessant for a number of minutes until Andy Lochead netted the winner—turning on a sixpence inside the Bournemouth penalty area to volley past the stationary keeper.
The win reaffirmed Villa's place at the top of the table—which is where they stayed for the rest of the season.
15. Eric Houghton vs. Manchester United, 02 April 1938
Eric Houghton's opening strike sent his side on their way to a 3-0 victory over Manchester United—Villa's only rivals for the Division Two championship that year.
The game had been a very closely contested fixture until Houghton broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.
The goal seemed to dishearten the Reds as Frank Broome and Jackie Maund later scored. United failed to recover from the defeat as Villa finished the season as champions, returning to the top flight after two seasons in the wilderness.
14. Bobby Thompson vs. Stoke City, 18 April 1960
Villa were once again in the second tier of English football during the 1959-60 season.
Bobby Thompson's second-half strike proved the winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Potters. Cardiff, who had matched Villa all through the season, lost to Plymouth on the same day which meant that the Birmingham side were crowned league champions.
13. Peter McParland vs. Rotherham United, 05 September 1961
Due to fixture congestion during the 1960/61 First Division season, Villa and Rotherham were forced to play the inaugural League Cup final at the start of the 1961-62 campaign.
It was a two-legged affair in those days, and after Villa had lost the opening leg 2-0, they had an awful lot of work to do.
Harry Burrows and Alan O'Neill restored parity during the second leg at Villa Park. The game neared penalties as Villa struggled to break down the stubborn Millers' defence, but club legend Peter McParland popped up with a winning goal deep into extra-time as Villa were named the first winners of the League Cup.
12. Dalian Atkinson vs. Tranmere Rovers, 16 February 1994
Aston Villa looked dead and buried during their first-leg, semi-final of the League Cup in February 1994.
Ron Atkinson's men trailed their lower league opposition 3-0, thanks to goals from John Aldridge, Mark Hughes and Ian Nolan.
The crowd inside Prenton Park were in full voice, believing their side were all but into the final of the League Cup until Dalian Atkinson pulled back a late goal.
Villa won a very dubious free-kick just outside the Tranmere penalty area, which Kevin Richardson opted to take.
The midfielder's floated cross was met by the head of Tony Daley who nodded the ball back into the path of Atkinson who stood, unmarked, 15 yards from goal. Making no mistake, the Villa forward volleyed the ball home, handing his side a foothold in the match ahead of the second leg.
11. Dalian Atkinson vs. Tranmere Rovers, 27 February 1994
The second leg of the League Cup semi-final was played just 11 days later with the visiting side leading 3-1.
Dean Saunders grabbed an early goal, pulling away at the near post to convert Andy Townsend's smart cross before Shaun Teale's splendid diving header levelled the aggregate score.
John Aldridge later converted a penalty for the visitors after the striker was felled in the box, seemingly sending the Division One side into the final. That was until Dalian Atkinson popped up with a late goal, however.
The determined Villa forward rose higher than anybody inside the Tranmere penalty area to meet Tony Daley's cross, leveling the aggregate score to send the game into extra-time. Villa won 5-4 on penalties, advancing into the final.
10. Peter McParland vs. Manchester United, 4 May 1957
The photo of captain Johnny Dixon being hoisted into the air by teammates with the FA Cup raised above his head is one of the more famous elements of Villa's long history.
But Villa's last FA Cup triumph in 1957 is often remembered for two other aspects.
Manchester United goalkeeper Ray Wood collided with Peter McParland after just six minutes and had to be taken off. He later returned to the pitch but in the unfamiliar position of right wing before being sent back between the posts during the second stanza.
McParland was involved once again, inflicting further damage on United—though this time it was with the ball.
Villa's outside-left opened the scoring in the 68th minute before adding another shortly after. McParland's second strike proved to be the match winner after Tommy Taylor pulled one back for United.
The FA Cup triumph was Villa's seventh—a record at the time—and their last in more than half a century.
9. Savo Milosevic vs. Leeds United, 24 March 1996
Savo "Miss-a-lot-evic" had been the butt of a few jokes throughout the 1995-96 season due to his wayward shooting and uncanny ability to miss when it seemed easier to score.
However, the 22-year-old from Belgrade found his shooting boots when it mattered most, picking out the top corner from 25 yards to open the scoring in Villa's 3-0 win over Leeds United in the League Cup final.
8. Harry Hampton vs. Blackburn Rovers, 29 January 1910
Harry Hampton's hat-trick goal earned Villa a 4-3 win over Blackburn Rovers, helping his side move further away from Liverpool, who lost 1-0 at home to arch-rivals Everton during their next outing—effectively ruling them out of a chance of winning the title.
Villa's title-winning season included a 15-match unbeaten run as they finished five points clear of the Reds. It was Villa's sixth league title following a 10-year absence.
7. Gary Shaw vs. Barcelona, 26 January 1983
Following Villa's European Cup triumph during the previous season, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup holders Barcelona awaited for the UEFA Super Cup clash.
As was the norm back in those days, the match was contested over two legs. Barcelona claimed a narrow 1-0 victory at the Nou Camp and, with a stellar defensive record to their name, were looking likely to take the title.
Villa struggled to break down their Spanish opponents throughout the match and grew increasingly frustrated. Time and time again the Blaugrana's defence stood strong and they were just 10 minutes away from victory when Villa broke the deadlock.
Villa's poorly executed free-kick fell to Des Bremner who hoisted the ball back into the penalty area. Barcelona's defence failed to deal with the lofted cross and the ball was headed back across goal into the path of Shaw who swivelled on the penalty spot, smashing the ball into the back of the net.
The goal sent the match into extra-time, with Gordon Cowans and Ken McNaught later scoring in a 3-1 win.
6. Johnny Campbell vs. Nottingham Forest, 03 April 1896
Villa sat in third position at the end of December, with league leaders Derby County winning all 10 of their home games.
However, six consecutive victories saw Villa rise to the top of the pile in January. Their East Midlands rivals, despite losing their position, continued to grind out victories and pushed Villa all the way.
Johnny Cambell's strike helped Villa to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest during the penultimate game of the season. Derby dropped a point against Burnley in the following day's clash and Villa were crowned league champions for a second time.
5. Bob Chatt vs. West Bromwich Albion, 20 April 1895
Villa faced local rivals West Brom in the FA Cup final back in 1985 and travelled to London to play at Crystal Palace—a venue that held the fixture for the next 20 years.
Villa had won the FA Cup previously, though the Baggies were going for their third victory.
Bob Chatt scored after just 30 seconds—a record that stood for 114 years until Everton's Louis Saha grabbed a goal after just 25 seconds in the 2009 final against Chelsea.
It was the game's only goal as Villa drew level with West Brom on two wins apiece.
4. John 'Jack' Devey vs. Newton Heath, 16 December 1893
In a time where sportsmen often played different sports at the highest level, Jack Devey featured for both Aston Villa as well as enjoying a long cricket career with Warwickshire.
Devey joined Villa in 1891 and was subsequently capped by England. His finest moment came in December 1893, however, when he scored two vital goals against Newton Heath in a 3-1 win.
Villa built up a six-point lead by the end of the year, maintaining that margin throughout the remainder of the season to claim their first league title.
3. Archie Hunter vs. West Bromwich Albion, 02 April 1887
Aston Villa claimed their first piece of silverware during the 1886-87 season when they faced West Brom in the FA Cup final. Thousands travelled from the local area down to London to watch the fixture at the Kennington Oval.
Villa took the lead in bizarre fashion. The Baggies' keeper had initially thought that Villa's inside-left Dennis Hodgetts was offside as he turned the ball home, only for the referee to award the goal.
Club legend Archie Hunter added the second towards the end of the first half, turning the ball home whilst lying on the ground after a collision with the opposition goalkeeper.
The score remained the same throughout the second half and Villa were awarded the trophy—captain Hunter named Villa's first FA Cup-winning captain.
2. Allan Evans vs. Middlesbrough, 25 April 1981
Villa defeated Middlesbrough 3-0 in the penultimate game of the season, all but handing them the title.
Gary Shaw and Peter Withe scored as Villa opened up a two-goal cushion, but it was the strike from defender Allan Evans that put the game beyond doubt.
Villa went into the final day of the season needing to match fellow title contenders Ipswich's result and, although they lost to Arsenal, the claret and blue outfit were crowned champions for the first time in 71 years following Ipswich's loss to Middlesbrough.
1. Peter Withe vs. Bayern Munich, 26 May 1982
There could have been no more famous goal than Peter Withe's scrappy, mishit strike that bounced off his shin and in off the post to secure Villa's famous 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the European Cup final.
Villa travelled to Rotterdam to face the star-studded German champions with legendary forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge leading the line.
Villa's goal led a charmed life throughout the 90 minutes, with substitute keeper Nigel Spink—who replaced first-choice keeper Jimmy Rimmer after 10 minutes—starring in between the posts.
A fluent and efficient Bayern side had Villa penned in their own half for most of the match but couldn't find a way past the stubborn Villa back-line.
With little over 10 minutes remaining, Villa took the lead.
Commentator Brian Moore's famous descriptive words now hang as a banner inside Villa Park.
Shaw, Williams, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball in for Tony Morley. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Peter Withe.