Kozak strike in vain as Villa suffer Fulham defeat

Aston Villa made a stuttering start to their Premier League preparations as they were beaten 3-1 by Fulham in Portugal.

Libor Kozak's first Aston Villa goal since December 2013 was in vain as Tim Sherwood's side suffered a 3-1 friendly defeat at the hands of Fulham on Saturday.

The Czech striker has missed over 18 months of football after suffering a broken leg in January 2014, before a back injury ended his hopes of a comeback last season.

Kozak's quest to be part of Sherwood's plans for the upcoming campaign made a positive start in Portugal, though, the 26-year-old netting 10 minutes after coming on at half-time.

Villa – who had new signing Micah Richards at centre-half – enjoyed plenty of early possession against Kit Symons' men, but found themselves behind midway through the half as Matt Smith converted Thomas Eisfeld's cross.

Richards and Ashley Westwood both saw efforts deflect wide as Villa searched for an equaliser. 

Kozak's introduction at the break gave the Premier League side a boost and he brought them level after collecting a pass from Joe Cole and calmly slotted home.

Villa were not level for long, though, as Alexander Kacaniklic produced a stunning long-range effort before Ross McCormack completed a morale-boosting win for the Championship side.