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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 17:05 GMT
Aston Villa 1-0 Blackburn
Nolberto Solano heads Aston Villa's winning goal
Nolberto Solano's late strike gave faltering Aston Villa a much-needed victory over Blackburn at Villa Park.

Nils-Eric Johansson came closest to opening the scoring for Rovers when his header hit the bar after 35 minutes.

Villa's Juan Pablo Angel shot into the side netting after 39 minutes and wasted more chances to break the deadlock in the second half.

But David O'Leary's side clinched victory when Solano was left unmarked to head home in the 88th minute.

With Jay Bothroyd out with a thigh injury, it was left to Jon Stead to lead Blackburn's attack.

And it was Stead who conjured the first real chance of the match inside five minutes, curling a shot just wide of Thomas Sorenson's left-hand post.

Villa matched Rovers in the opening stages, with first-choice duo Jloyd Samuel and Gavin McCann back from injury to add some steel to O'Leary's side.

Samuel made an immediate impact, his diagonal cross from the left of midfield picking out Solano, whose right-footed shot found the side netting.

The former Newcastle player then set up Angel, who was denied by both the slippery conditions and a scrambled block by Dominic Matteo.

Despite their positive forward play, Villa handed Mark Hughes's side chances as they surrendered possession too easily on occasion.

A dangerous strike by Garry Flitcroft was blocked by Gareth Barry while speculative shots from Barry Ferguson and Brett Emerton sailed wide.

In the end it was defender Johansson who had Rovers best chance of the half.

The Swede flicked on Emerton's outswinging corner from the left after 35 minutes but could only watch as his header rebound off the post.

At the other end, Angel missed a golden opportunity to grab the lead for Villa just before half-time, pushing his shot into the side-netting after rounding Brad Friedel.

With wet and windy conditions enveloping Villa Park, both sides battled to carve out genuine goal chances.

Solano worked tirelessly for Villa but watched in frustration as his efforts were not followed up.

Luke Moore met the Peruvian's cross from the by-line but could not direct his header on target.

A double substitution by Hughes saw Paul Gallagher and David Thompson replace Stead and Steven Reid.

But the tactical switch did little to improve Rovers' fortunes.

A reinvigorated Villa, seeking their first goal in three games, poured forward.

Hendrie saw his spinning goalbound shot blocked by Johansson, who was on hand again to scoop the ball away from the toe of Angel.

Solano was again denied on 60 minutes when his right-footed drive edged beyond the post.

His free-kick was then headed wide by Blackburn striker Paul Dickov in the dying stages.

But with time running out, Solano powered Hendrie's corner past Friedel to end Villa's four-match losing streak.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel, Solano, McCann, Hendrie, Barry, Angel, Luke Moore (Davis 90).
Subs Not Used: Delaney, Postma, Berson, Stefan Moore.

Booked: McCann.

Goals: Solano 88.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Johansson, Todd, Matteo, Reid (Thompson 60), Flitcroft, Ferguson, Emerton, Dickov, Stead (Gallagher 59). Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Pedersen, McEveley.

Booked: Dickov.

Att: 34,265.

Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Interview: Aston Villa manager David O'Leary

Interview: Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes

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