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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 17:15 GMT
Aston Villa 3-0 Fulham
Darius Vassell and Steed Malbranque do battle
Darius Vassell fired Aston Villa to victory as David O'Leary's side deservedly beat Fulham.

England international Vassell scored at Villa Park for the first time in nearly a year then promptly added another.

Juan Pablo Angel grabbed the other goal - a poacher's effort which was his fifth in five games.

The result left Fulham, in a Champions League place before the game, in fifth spot behind London neighbours Charlton.

Fulham made a bright start, with Villa's Lee Hendrie clearing off the line and Sorensen tipping round the post from Steed Malbranque's shot.

5 mins: Sorensen tips Malbranque's shot round the post
7 mins: Angel's close-range volley is parried away by Van der Sar
33 mins: Angel scores the opener
67 mins: Vassell nets - through the legs of Van der Sar
82 mins: Vassell hits his second

But the action soon switched to the other end with Edwin van der Sar turning the ball away from Angel's close range shot.

Malbranque was dominant in the first period, playing a pivotal role in many of the Fulham attacks and constantly looking likely to score.

But it was Villa who broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute.

Jlloyd Samuel was the creator with a run taking him past the challenges of Malbranque and Moritz Voltz before delivering a low cross to the far-post where Angel converted.

David O'Leary's side began to press home their advantage in the second half and Vassell struck in the 67th minute - putting the ball through Van der Sar's legs after a cross from Samuel

England international Vassell, left out of the starting line-up for the previous two games, struck again eight minutes from time after a cross from substitute Thomas Hitzlsperger.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney (Ridgewell 62), Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel, Hendrie (Hitzlsperger 75), McCann, Whittingham, Barry, Angel (Moore 84), Vassell.
Subs Not Used: Postma, Crouch.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Volz, Knight, Goma, Harley, Malbranque (Sava 82), Inamoto (Hayles 69), Djetou, Clark, Boa Morte, Saha.
Subs Not Used: Melville, Crossley, Green.

Attendance: 35,617.

Referee: B Knight (Kent).

BBC Five Live's Pat Murphy
"Fulham were always chasing the game"

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary
"We imposed ourselves on Fulham"

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