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Aston Villa beat Chicago Fire 1-0 in friendly

BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois -- Gaby 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 a friendly on Saturday.

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

Villa's new manager Paul Lambert said Agbonlahor could be out for two weeks.

Villa came out attacking, and the push paid off with Agbonlahor's goal. He headed in a cross by defender Chris Herd from 10 yards out.

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

“This was great for us,” Lambert said. “I've got nothing but praise for the players, the way they've gone about it. As a group, our defense is very strong, not just the back four.”

Aside from defender Arne Frederich, Chicago played a second-string lineup. 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.

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.

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

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Gabriel Agbonlahor #11 of Aston Villa falls over Arne Friedrich #23 of the Chicago Fire during the first half of an international friendly match at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, Saturday, July 21. (AFP)

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