Aston Villa produced an outstanding performance to secure their place in the last sixteen of the NextGen series with a 5-1 victory over already qualified Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Knowing that only a win would guarantee progress Villa started the match with clear attacking intentions and could have had a penalty in the first minute when Graham appeared to be brought down in the penalty area. Play was waved on but it was not long before Villa's impressive start was rewarded. In the 11th minute Graham's corner was flicked on and steered home by centre half Donacien to give the visitors a vital lead.
Sporting then came into the game and only a last ditch tackle by Webb prevented Edelino from equalising. Hill then saved bravely from Podence who came off worst in the tackle and required treatment before bravely continuing.
The action then became end to end in an exciting half. Towards the end Villa again began to assert control and deserved to go in ahead at the break.
Villa extended their lead in the 47th minute when Grealish's mazy run and cross left Drennan with a simple tap in. Stunned by Villa's attacking play and movement Sporting conceded a third eight minutes later when Drennan's cross was swept home by his strike partner Burke.
Sporting used all 5 substitutes to try and get back in the game and launched a series of attacks that stretched the Villa defence for the first time in the match. They reduced the deficit in the 75th minute when substitute Santos scored from close range following a flowing move. Revitalised by the goal Sporting pressed for a second goal to continue their fight back but Villa broke away and Graham’s cross was tapped in by Burke for his second of the match to restore Villa's three goal lead.
Burke could have completed his hat trick shortly afterwards but shot over with just Meira to beat. Villa were now in complete charge and made it 5-1 in the 88th minute when Drennan scored his second following a surging run from the Villa captain Carruthers. Villa’s performance comfortably secured their place in the last 16 and they will await the draw with great anticipation.