Aston Villa beats Fire in exhibition

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Gabriel Agbonlahor scored in the 29th minute and then left with an injury in the second half as Aston Villa beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 in an exhibition match Saturday night.

Agbonlahor went down clutching his left leg after spinning by a defender in the 63rd minute, screaming in pain. The trainer for the English Premier League team gingerly flexed Agbonlahor's leg, which caused more pain, and the forward was carted off.

Villa came out attacking, and the push paid off with Agbonlahor's goal. He headed the cross of defender Chris Herd past Chicago goalkeeper Jay Nolly from 10 yards out.

The Fire had been back on their heels before that. Midfielder Stephan Ireland narrowly missed scoring with a sliding kick in the box in the 12th minute, and midfielder Charles N'Zogbia shoved an even closer shot over the goal three minutes later.

Aside from defender Arne Frederich, Chicago played a lineup of backups from Nolly forward. The Fire brought in starters Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko with 30 minutes to play, and added other regulars in the final minutes, but generated little offense.

Aston Villa started defender Eric Lichaj, one of its two Chicago-area-bred players, with recently re-signed goalkeeper Brad Guzan, entering with 11 minutes remaining. Lichaj played 57 minutes, his best play a sharp pass to N'Zogbia that nearly paid off with a goal.

The Lions launched their three-match exhibition tour of the U.S. by beating Philadelphia 1-0 on Wednesday. It concludes with a match at Portland on Tuesday.