Introduced as a late substitute, he capped an impressive cameo with the goal
The 6ft 3in striker can, according to the Villa manager, become the next Belgian to make his mark in the English top flight, following in the footsteps of Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Eden Hazard.
“He is only 21,” said Lambert of the forward who started for Belgium against Croatia last week. “You look at the company he is holding in the national team. Belgium are really coming to the fore with the players they have got and Christian is doing exceptionally well. I thought when he came on he was unplayable.”
At £7.5 million, Benteke was comfortably Lambert’s most expensive signing of the transfer window. His fee remains, however, some distance from the money Lambert’s predecessors lavished on Darren Bent and others.
Like it or not, Villa are moving in a different direction now, with four of Lambert’s summer arrivals recruited from lower down the ladder. It is still early days, but this win at least offset the alarming defeat to Everton.
Yet a clutch of diligent displays from this young side, and Villa’s spectacular opener from one of those players, Matthew Lowton, offer hope it could work. Lowton’s 16th-minute volley from the edge of the area suggests the £3 million Villa spent to bring him in from Sheffield United was money well spent.
Having achieved good results at Norwich by giving young players a chance, Lambert said he was confident of repeating the trick at Villa.
“I have done it the last few years at Norwich, so hopefully they will drive on,” Lambert said. “You could hear the crowd’s reaction to what they saw, that’s the big marker.”
It prompted Villa Park to erupt in a fashion unfamiliar under Alex McLeish. Reinvigorating fans left disenchanted under Lambert’s predecessor is one of his main tasks.
“I don’t know what happened last season, but I get the feeling people want us to do well,” Lambert added. “If the lads can keep them on their side it is really important. The players and the people who come to watch are the two most important parts of the club.”
Previously unbeaten, Swansea manager Michael Laudrup’s response to the defeat was philosophical. “It happens for everybody,” Laudrup said. “You have days when you have six chances and don’t score.
“You have to be honest. The day we beat West Ham (3-0) we scored three goals, created five chances, even QPR (5-0), five out of eight or nine chances. I would be much more worried if we created no chances. We created chances, but I know there will be games when we won’t score.”