Top 10 Aston Villa Goals Under Paul Lambert
The Belgian turned in a goal-of-the-season contender with his first strike and inspired this list of the best goals scored by Aston Villa since Paul Lambert's installment as manager in the summer of 2012.
The primary criteria for ranking the goals are the degree of difficulty, uniqueness, aesthetic quality and the context of the game in which the goal was scored.
Antonio Luna vs. Arsenal
Luna's goal sealed an unexpected opening day victory for the Villans. Making his Villa debut, the Spanish left-back was the surprise scorer as he broke quickly into attack from a cleared corner and beat keeper Wojciech Szczesny to send the traveling fans into raptures.
Christian Benteke vs. Everton
Benteke's second goal in the match came from a brilliantly created header that put Villa two goals ahead in an action-packed match. Strong interplay between Andreas Weimann and Matthew Lowton preceded a wonderful, deep cross from the latter that Benteke converted with a stooping header.
Matthew Lowton vs. Swansea
While the game may best be remembered for marking Villa's first win of the 2012-13 season, as well as Benteke's debut for the club, Lowton's goal was memorable as well. The right-back perfectly timed a volley from the edge of the box to open the scoring.
Charles N'Zogbia vs. West Ham United
N'Zogbia has been mostly disappointing since arriving to replace Ashley Young and Stewart Downing in 2011. Nonetheless, perhaps his finest moment in a Villa shirt game last year when his stellar free kick was the difference against West Ham in a win that kick-started Villa's uptick in form.
Christian Benteke vs. Chelsea
Picking up the 2013-14 season right where he left off, Benteke's crafty finish against Chelsea marked his third goal in the opening two games. Villa would ultimately fall to the Blues under contentious circumstances, but Benteke's goal was a real highlight.
Ron Vlaar vs. Sunderland
In a game in which Villa scored six goals in, Vlaar's opener was the best of the bunch. The Dutch defender hit a powerful, low drive that fooled Simon Mignolet and earned Villa's captain his first goal for the club.
10. Ron Vlaar vs. Wigan Athletic
Last season, Villa's final day clash with Wigan ended up being anti-climactic after the Latics were guaranteed to be relegated, ensuring Villa's safety.
While this made the match a relatively meaningless affair, Vlaar's stunning goal was the undoubted highlight of the game.
Showing uncommon deftness for his position, the central defender skilfully brought down the ball at the edge of the box and quickly fired a well-placed volley past the keeper for the captain's second goal of the season.
9. Ashley Westwood vs. West Bromwich Albion
Derby goals are particularly meaningful and comeback goals are always memorable. Combine the two, as well as perfect technique, and you have Ashley Westwood's equalizer against West Brom from earlier this season.
Westwood, who had never scored for Villa prior to the match, was the unlikely hero and his goal brought Villa back from being 2-0 down to equalize against their local rivals.
The midfielder coolly controlled the ball at the edge of the box and perfectly placed his swerving shot into the bottom right corner to open his account for Villa in sensational style.
8. Fabian Delph vs. Southampton
Another first-time goalscorer who opened his account with a wonder strike, midfielder Fabian Delph took five years to finally net for Villa, but he picked the right time to break his duck.
Villa had made the most of their few chances against Southampton, who had come back to tie the game at 2-2 despite dominating Villa for the entire match. Delph cemented the game's bizarre nature by scoring an unbelievable, late winner.
Delph, leading the counterattack, ignored Christian Benteke's calls for the ball and unexpectedly fired a rocket shot from 30 yards out that flew off his boot and into the top corner. This individual piece of quality earned Villa a shock away victory and a vital three points.
7. Leandro Bacuna vs. Manchester City
Being 2-1 down against one of the league's best teams, Villa looked out of ideas for most of the match. When a free kick presented itself just outside the box, up stepped Bacuna.
Playing in one of his first games for the club, the right-back made no mistake with the set piece and perfectly placed his dipping shot over the wall and into the back of the net, drawing Villa level. Villa would go on to sensationally win the game after a calamitous error in City's defence and Bacuna's free kick was the spark plug.
The versatile Dutchman would go on to score another beautiful free kick just a few weeks later against Cardiff, but his first goal still stands as his most unforgettable contribution to the club.
6. Andreas Weimann vs. Liverpool
Some goals are about more than just a stunning finish. Stellar buildup play and the context of the game can make even the simplest of finishes memorable.
Andreas Weimann's goal against Liverpool is proof of this. Villa, who had disappointed for most of the 2012-13 season until this point, turned in their finest performance of the year with a surprising 3-1 victory at Anfield.
Benteke dominated Liverpool that day and the Belgian exchanged passes with Weimann before running onto the Austrian's through ball in the penalty box. A first-time backheel by Benteke set the ball perfectly at Weimann's feet to sweep the ball home and shock the Liverpool supporters.
5. Christian Benteke vs. West Bromwich Albion
Another stunner from a 2-2 derby draw with West Brom, Benteke's wonder strike gave Villa an early lead in their meeting at the Hawthorns last season.
The Belgian striker demonstrated that he possessed strength and guile in equal parts as he faked his defender with a shoulder roll before quickly turning and firing an unstoppable shot past the diving keeper.
Although Villa would be the victims of the opposing team's late comeback on this occasion, Benteke's thunderbolt of a strike was beautiful to watch.
4. Fabian Delph vs. West Bromwich Albion
It seems that Villa players have a penchant for the spectacular against West Brom as Fabian Delph provides another great goal against Villa's local rivals, this time from the club's most recent match against the Baggies.
Although he has only scored twice for Villa, both of Delph's goals make this list and show the quality the midfielder contains. A pair of sublime touches freed Delph at the edge of the penalty box where he blasted the ball in off of the underside of the crossbar.
Making amends for an earlier own goal, Delph's strike gave Villa a 3-2 lead after conceding the opening pair of goals. Villa would go on to win the derby after both teams netted again and it is Delph's contribution to the thrilling match that stands out the most.
3. Andreas Weimann vs. Manchester United
Manchester United have consistently gotten the better of Villa in their recent meetings, often winning in astounding circumstances. Last season, Villa's 3-2 loss to United followed this trend, but it was preceded by a magical moment from Benteke and Weimann.
After battling well for most of the first half, Villa took a deserved lead into half-time, courtesy of Weimann. Benteke, in one of his breakthrough performances, embarrassed United's Chris Smalling down the flank and laid the ball off for Weimann to stroke into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty box.
Although Javier Hernandez would go on to steal the three points for the Red Devils, Weimann's first-time finish and Benteke's rampaging run to set it up will not soon be forgotten in the Holte End. Smalling certainly won't forget it.
2. Christian Benteke vs. Norwich City
The inspiration for this list, Benteke's brilliant overhead kick against Norwich is his best goal in a claret and blue shirt yet. It triggered Villa's sudden onslaught and encapsulated Benteke's skill set in many ways.
Benteke expertly chested down Vlaar's chip into the box, used his strength to hold off Norwich's Sebastien Bassong and perfectly timed his overhead kick to fire past the keeper, John Ruddy.
The stunning kick opened the floodgates for Villa and showed the Belgian striker's impressive combination of strength, guile and technique. In a game that Villa desperately needed to win, Benteke delivered in emphatic style.
1. Matthew Lowton vs. Stoke City
As impressive as Benteke's overhead kick was, Matthew Lowton's unbelievable volley in last season's 3-1 win at Stoke takes the top spot.
Villla needed to beat the Potters in their nail-biting battle to stave off relegation and took an early lead, courtesy of Lowton's smart play down the right to set up Gabriel Agbonlahor. Unfortunately for Villa, Stoke equalized with 10 minutes remaining and left the away side scrambling to regain their lead.
With just minutes to go before extra time, and with their Premier League survival at stake, Villa had their late corner kick cleared by the resolute Stoke defence. The ball fell far beyond the penalty box to an on-rushing Lowton, who expertly took the ball off his chest before firing in a thunderous volley that sailed over Asmir Begovic and into the top corner of the net.
The goal was voted as Villa's goal of the season last year and will long stand as an unforgettable moment for all Villa fans.