9 August 2014 18:29
Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar made his return to club action on Saturday as Paul Lambert’s men were held to a 0-0 draw by Parma.
The Netherlands international has been strongly linked with a move away from Villa Park after starring in his country’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.
But he helped the Premier League club to a clean sheet at Villa Park as they rounded off their preparations for the new season, which gets under way next week.
Serie A side Parma provided Villa with a stern test, and both teams created their fair share of chances to win the game, particularly in the first half.
Parma generally looked the more dangerous before the break and they went close early on when Jonathan Biabiany found space in the penalty area, only to skew his shot wide.
Andreas Weimann almost put Villa ahead with 11 minutes on the clock, but the Austrian saw his stinging drive well-saved by Antonio Mirante.
Brad Guzan was then forced into a save from the lively Biabiany, before Raffaele Palladino hit a shot into the side-netting shortly after.
Lambert introduced Vlaar at half-time, and that change seemed to stabilise Villa’s defence and give them more confidence going forward.
New signing Kieran Richardson nearly netted in style as he struck a 30-yard volley just over the crossbar after an hour, while Gabriel Agbonlahor missed the target from close range late on to ensure the match finished goalless.