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 Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 16:58 GMT
Villa claim late win
Koumas (left) celebrates his goal with team-mates Lee Hughes and Neil Clement
Koumas (left) celebrates his goal with team-mates
Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Tomas Hitzlsperger grabbed a dramatic late goal to steal victory for 10-man Aston Villa in the West Midlands derby.

Jason Koumas thought he had snatched a point for West Brom with his first Premiership goal but one minute into injury time Hitzlsperger thumped a 30-yard effort past Russell Hoult.

Darius Vassell had put the home side into the lead after just 16 minutes but Koumas struck back soon after with a thunderous strike past Peter Enckelman.

Before Hitzlsperger's late strike the most notable action in the second period had been the sending-off of Villa's club captain Steve Staunton, for elbowing Baggies striker Danny Dichio.

Key moments
16 mins: Vassell opens the scoring
29 mins: Koumas equalises
68 mins: Staunton red-carded
90 mins: Hitzlsperger wins it for Villa

Villa made the brighter start in the first half, with Gareth Barry fizzing the first shot of note just past the upright.

Then Hendrie, in a new role behind the front two, created a superb chance for Dion Dublin but the big centre-forward somehow headed over.

But in the 16th minute Villa did take the lead.

England World Cup striker Vassell reacted first after Tomas Hitzlsperger's free-kick rebounded off the wall and slotted past goalkeeper Russell Hoult.

At that stage West Brom were creating nothing while Villa, looking to extend their lead, saw Barry send a half-volley just past the post.

But on 29 minutes Koumas, with his first Baggies goal since moving to Tranmere, levelled the scores and that woke his team up.

Vassell slots home his goal
Vassell opens the scoring for Villa

Soon after Koumas set up Lee Hughes who failed to convert but, as if to prove they were not out of it, Villa then came agonisingly close as Hendrie thumped a shot off the bar.

In the second period Gary Megson finally lost patience with his striker Lee Hughes - who has not scored now for 11-and-a-half hours of football.

Hughes was taken off and replaced by Dichio who at least had the effect of contributing to Staunton's removal.

Dichio and the Villa defender had several run-ins before the ex-Republic of Ireland man - on his return to the side - elbowed the Baggies man.

Staunton received a straight red even though he had previously been booked.

Despite that blow Villa were in no mood to settle for a point and Hoult had to make a brilliant save from Vassell as the final whistle drew near.

Then Hitzlsperger won the three points with his stunning long range drive.


Aston Villa: Enckelman, Samuel, Mellberg, Johnsen, Staunton, Leonhardsen, Hitzlsperger, Hendrie, Barry, Dublin, Vassell.
Subs not used: Angel, Postma, Allback, De la Cruz, Kinsella.
Sent off: Staunton (68).
Booked: Samuel, Staunton, Hendrie.

West Brom: Hoult, Sigurdsson, Moore, Gregan, Balis, Koumas, McInnes, Johnson, Clement, Hughes (Dichio 58), Roberts (Dobie 84).
Subs not used: Wallwork, Adam Chambers, Murphy.

Booked: Koumas.

Attendance: 40,391

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Pat Murphy
"Villa spurned many chances"
 Villa's Tomas Hitzlsperger
"I'm very happy"
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