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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Newcastle held by Villa
Peter Crouch scores his first Aston Villa goal
Peter Crouch heads Villa level on his home debut
Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle
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Alan Shearer's 199th Premiership goal and Peter Crouch's first saw Newcastle and Aston Villa play out an entertaining draw in rainswept conditions.

Shearer put Newcastle ahead after just two minutes with a close-range finish.

But Villa dominated the rest of the first half and equalised with a header from Crouch on his home debut.

And while the draw did little for the Midlanders' faint Uefa Cup hopes, it enabled fourth-placed Newcastle to move four points clear of Chelsea with a game in hand.

  Match facts
3 mins: Alan Shearer puts Newcastle ahead
26 mins mins: Peter Crouch's first Villa goal brings the hosts level

Newcastle came into the game having hit Everton for six on Good Friday.

And they picked up where they left off with a goal inside three minutes.

Villa's defence headed Kieron Dyer's cross only as far as Laurent Robert, whose shot from 20 yards flew against the woodwork.

A point is better than nothing in our quest to get into Europe and to be three points in front of Chelsea is still a good position
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson

And Shearer showed all his poacher's instincts to react quickest to the rebound and nudge the ball home.

Villa responded well to that early blow, however, and went on to dominate the rest of the half.

New signing Crouch went close with two headers before putting the hosts deservedly back on terms in the 26th minute.

Gareth Barry made the goal with a superb cross from the left that the 4.5m striker glanced past Shay Given into the far corner of the net.

Alan Shearer scored in the third minute
Alan Shearer celebrates his 199th Premiership goal
Newcastle were now struggling to retain possession for any length of time as Villa tightened their grip on the game.

With the Midlanders monopolising possession, Juan Pablo Angel and George Boateng each went close twice as the home pressure began to mount.

Bobby Robson's side were the more grateful to hear the half-time whistle and they emerged for the second half in more purposeful mood.

Crouch did very well - people will be looking at his height but if you put the ball in the right areas he will cause problems
Villa boss Graham Taylor

Carl Cort headed Robert's corner over the bar and Shearer had another sniff of an early chance.

But with increasingly heavy rain slowing the pace of the game and putting control at a premium, chances for both sides became few and far between.

Peter Schmeichel touched a long-range Robert effort round the post and then parried a Dyer lob as the game entered its final quarter.

And at the other end, Given was brought into action by a Steve Staunton header and a low shot from Tomas Hitzlsperger.

But Dyer almost won it for Newcastle at the death when he headed Nolberto Solano's cross narrowly over the bar.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Barry, Hadji (Vassell 76), Taylor, Boateng, Hitzlsperger, Crouch (Balaban 76), Angel.
Subs not used: Enckelman, Stone, Samuel.

Newcastle United: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Dabizas, Distin, Solano, Jenas, Dyer, Robert (Bernard 83), Shearer, Cort (Acuna 83).
Subs not used: Elliott, Harper, Lua-Lua.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Attendance: 36,597

BBC Sport's John Murray
A well-contested match"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"Villa certainly deserved something from the game"
Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor
"Their intention was to stop us attacking"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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