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 Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 21:44 GMT
Vassell punishes Preston
Darius Vassell's second goal came in the 55th minute
Vassell celebrates his second with Hendrie
Aston Villa 5-0 Preston North End

Darius Vassell grabbed two goals as Aston Villa cruised to victory over Preston in the Worthington Cup fourth round.

Dion Dublin, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Juan Pablo Angel - with his first touch after coming on to replace Vassell - also scored at Villa Park.

The Premiership side always looked in control, and some razor-sharp finishing underlined their overall superiority.

Match facts
44 mins: Vassell hits first
55 mins: Vassell on target again
80 mins: Dublin heads home
84 mins: Angel delights home fans
87 mins: Hitzlsperger completes rout
Resolute Preston defending kept them at bay until the 44th minute, when Vassell opened the scoring.

Mark Kinsella was on hand to put a Colin Murdock clearance back into the Preston box, and Vassell fired home from close range.

His second came 10 minutes after the re-start when a Lee Hendrie cross was laid back by Dion Dublin.

Vassell kept his composure to skip past Colin Murdock and Chris Lucketti before side-footing past goalkeeper David Lucas.

The home side should have gone ahead two minutes earlier when Murdock was robbed by JLloyd Samuel who combined with Vassell to set up Dublin, but he shot wide.

I feel some sympathy for Preston because I didn't think their performance warranted them being beaten by five goals

Villa manager
Graham Taylor

It was not Murdock's night - he was also booked in the 34th minute for bringing down Vassell.

Preston began the second half brightly, with a 48th-minute cross by Eddie Jones nearly eluding Villa keeper Peter Enckelman.

But Graham Taylor's team were rewarded for their overall dominance by Vassell's second - only his fourth goal of the season.

Dublin added a third, heading home from Barry's cross in the 80th minute, but the night's best goal came from Angel.

The Colombian latched on to a cross by fellow substitute Ulises De la Cruz to acrobatically hook the ball past Lucas.

Hitzlsperger then put the icing on Villa's best win of the season, drilling home a left-footed shot from 30 yards.


Aston Villa: Enckelman, Samuel, Staunton, Johnsen, Barry, Leonhardsen, Hitzlsperger, Taylor, Hendrie, Vassell, Dublin. Subs: Angel, Postma, Allback, De la Cruz, Kinsella.

Preston: Lucas, Alexander, Lucketti, Murdock, Eaton, Skora, Etuhu, McKenna, Lewis, Healy, Cresswell. Subs: Broomes, Cartwright, Rankine, Moilanen, Mears.

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucestershire)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"Preston were well beaten"
 Preston boss Craig Brown
"They were contenders for goal of the season"

Quarter-final draw

Wednesday's games

Tuesday's games
Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.


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