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 Wednesday, 1 January, 2003, 16:57 GMT
Villa outclass Bolton
Dion Dublin celebrates his third goal in three games
Dion Dublin put Villa in front after eight minutes
Aston Villa 2-0 Bolton

Goals from Dion Dublin - his third in three games - and Darius Vassell were enough to put the brakes on Bolton's recent resurgence in a hard-fought game at Villa Park.

Villa's win moved them 10 points clear of the relegation zone as their good run of home form continued.

But Bolton - who paid the price for some careless defending - find themselves back in trouble at the wrong end of the table.

Key moments
8 mins: Dublin puts Villa in front
80 mins: Vassell makes the game safe
The visitors, beaten just twice in their previous nine league games, made a confident start and a JLloyd Samuel mistake let in Bolton's Jay-Jay Okocha, but his shot was blocked.

Villa's eighth-minute opener came against the run of play as they hit Bolton on the counter-attack in their first real attack of the game

Alan Wright's cross from the left outfoxed the daydreaming Bolton defence and Lee Hendrie's intelligent dummy gave Dublin the space to sidefoot the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Darius Vassell took his goal without thinking and I'm delighted with the win

Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor

Gareth Barry wasted the chance to double Villa's lead in the 16th minute when he headed straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen from Tomas Hitzlsperger's corner.

Bolton had chances to recover, with striker Kevin Nolan firing over from six yards on 20 minutes after getting on the end of Jay-Jay Okocha's inch-perfect cross.

Ricardo Gardner then completely miscued from a similar position and Michael Ricketts swivelled inside the box but his effort lacked accuracy.

Gareth Barry drives forward for Aston Villa as Anthony Barness tries to get his challenge in
Anthony Barness and Gareth Barry fight for possession
Villa keeper Stefan Postma, keeping his place despite Peter Enckelman's recovery from injury, saved good shots from Nolan and Henrik Pedersen as Okocha's creativity put the home side on the back foot.

Nevertheless, Villa continued to look dangerous on the break with Juan Pablo Angel having plenty of success in the air against the Bolton back four.

And Angel's knockdown to Dublin put Ulises de la Cruz in, but a poor first touch from the Ecuadorian saw the chance vanish.

We can blame ourselves for lack of quality in the last third of the field

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce

Villa made a promising start to the second half, but they squandered another great chance within 60 seconds of the restart - the story of Villa's season so far.

De la Cruz's deep cross found Barry unmarked 10 yards out, but his shot flew just past the post.

But second-half substitute Darius Vassell showed his team-mates the way on 80 minutes after he capitalised on Gudni Bergsson's error at the back.

Vassell caught the defender dithering in possession and robbed him of the ball before coolly finishing from a narrow angle to ensure a deserved three points for Graham Taylor's men.



Aston Villa: Postma, Edwards, Samuel, Mellberg, Wright, De la Cruz (Cooke 88), Hendrie, Hitzlsperger (Kinsella 66), Barry, Dublin, Angel (Vassell 66).
Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Ridgewell.

Booked: Hitzlsperger, Hendrie.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Barness, Bergsson, Whitlow, Charlton, Pedersen (Facey 61), Nolan (Bulent 85), Frandsen (Tofting 76), Gardner, Ricketts, Okocha.
Subs Not Used: Livesey, Poole.

Attendance: 31,838.

Referee: M Messias (N Yorkshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Juliette Ferrington
"Bolton made things difficult for Villa"
 Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor
"We've had an inconsistent season"
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