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BBC Sport's Dave Woods
"The game just slipped away"
 real 14k

Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 17:19 GMT
Villa's Vassell destroys Bantams
Paul Merson
Merson had an easy day against the Bradford defence
Bradford 0-3 Aston Villa

Darius Vassell's first two Premiership goals helped Villa to a convincing win over a Bradford side who look bound for the First Division.

The young striker pounced twice in the space of eight second half minutes to highlight the visitor's dominance during the final 45 minutes.

Substitute Julian Joachim's late strike gave the score a touch of reality bearing in mind the two sides' performance in the second half.

For all their endeavour, the Bantams looked a tired and ageing outfit who ran out of ideas after their initial attacks failed.

If you make it easy for the opposition you are not going to win a lot of matches.
  Jim Jeffries

The victory relieves the pressure on Villa boss John Gregory whose side had lost their last six league games.

Dean Windass had the first real chance of the game, when he rose above Steve Staunton to head narrowly wide of the far post with David James apparently stationary.

It was Windass who had the next decent chance, when he managed drop behind the Villa back three, before making a mess of his control, allowing James and Alpay to foil him.

The first sighting of Villa's record signing Juan Pablo Angel saw the Colombian rise above the Bradford defence to head Alan Wright's cross against the stanchion.

Bradford were looking quite bright, and David Hopkin fired a 20-yard shot narrowly wide of the post after being set up by Billy McKinlay.

Darius has this great potential which he hasn't quite fulfilled, but he moved up another notch today.
  John Gregory

Lee Hendrie was left on the floor in the penalty area after McKinlay took his legs from under him.

It was a challenge that incensed the Villa players and led to the Scottish midfielder being booked.

Hendrie recovered from the challenge, but Villa were to lose another young player when Gareth Barry was stretchered off shortly before half-time, with veteran Ian Taylor his replacement.

Shortly after the restart, Villa had a Hendrie goal disallowed for offisde, but the disappointment of that was soon forgotten when Vassell's strike nestled into the back of the net in the 50th minute.

Gareth Barry
Gareth Barry's injury looks serious

The strike was set up by Angel's pass which was superbly weighted for the on-running Vassell. who needed just two touches to finish off the move.

Vassell's second came shortly after an adventurous substitution by Bradford boss Jim Jeffries, which saw defender Wayne Jacobs replaced by Peter Beagrie.

The young striker had no trouble dancing past Bradford's porous defence, before smashing home a left-footed shot into the top corner of Gary Walsh's near post.

Substitute Joachim gave Villa the third goal that their second half display merited when he outpaced the Bantams defence and easily chipped the ball over the advancing Gary Walsh.

In truth, Villa could have scored more during the last 20 minutes, with Vassell denied his hat-trick by a Walsh block and Paul Merson constantly breaking from midfield to terrorise the Bradford defence.

For Bradford, a turn and shot over the crossbar by Robbie Blake was the best they could muster.

Bradford: Walsh, Atherton, Jacobs, Molenaar, O'Brien, McKinlay, McCall, Hopkin, Windass, Jess, Blake. Subs: Davison, Myers, Beagrie, Locke, Ward.

Aston Villa: James, Delaney, Wright, Staunton, Alpay, Barry, Boateng, Hendrie, Angel, Merson, Vassell. Subs: Taylor, Joachim, Ginola, McGrath, Enckelman.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

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