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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Southampton 2-3 Aston Villa
Nolberto Solano
Aston Villa pulled off an unlikely comeback to rob Southampton of the points in a classic game of two halves.

Saints started quickly, Kevin Phillips latching on to a Peter Crouch cross, before Crouch buried a Jamie Redknapp through-ball inside 13 minutes.

But Villa substitutes Nolberto Solano and Carlton Cole changed the game after the break, Cole converting a pass from Solano, who then scored from a corner.

Steven Davis slotted the winner on 72 minutes as Saints bemoaned their luck.

Traffic congestion pushed back the kick-off by 15 minutes, but Southampton soon made up for lost time.

Phillips and Crouch, who have never failed to score when partnered up front in the Premiership, took just four minutes to extend that run.

Crouch used his frame to force his way inside and found Phillips, whose deft touch carried him past a challenge before he fired in from six yards.

Villa's patched-up defence - reshuffled in the absence of the injured Olof Mellberg and the banned Liam Ridgewell - looked uncomfortable.

And they conceded again 10 minutes later, Redknapp threading a perfect through-ball for Crouch to score.

The hosts continued to pose the bigger threat to the disgust of Villa boss David O'Leary, who saw jinxed striker Darius Vassell stretchered off with yet another injury.

It fell to Cole and Solano to repair the damage.

Just 10 minutes after the restart, Solano flicked on to Cole who side footed in from the edge of the box.

Southampton survived a big appeal for a goal when Cole saw his shot from a Juan Pablo Angel cross smothered by Niemi right on the line.

But Villa would not be denied, Solano finishing in style when a Thomas Hitzlsperger corner fell to him six yards out.

And Southampton's spectacular capitulation was complete when a Ulises de la Cruz cross was stroked in by Davis for his first league goal.

Henri Camara and Crouch had late chances to salvage a point, but the hosts ran out of steam and remain in desperate relegation trouble.


  • Southampton boss Harry Redknapp
    "It's a massive blow. The defence showed no confidence once we conceded and lost Andreas Jakobsson.

    "We were fantastic in the first half but when Villa put their subs on we could not get near Nolberto Solano and we let Carlton Cole bully us.

    "We've got it all to do to get out of trouble. It's not about complacency, it's the nerves going."

  • Aston Villa boss David O'Leary
    "We had to make changes at half-time. Martin Laursen was just not good enough. He's just come back from a knee injury and hurt it again.

    "I might not have much choice for players for Wednesday against Charlton.

    "Darius Vassell will have to have a scan and it could be bad, but I still think we've got an outside chance to go in the UEFA Cup."


    Southampton: Niemi, Delap, Lundekvam, Jakobsson (Davenport 45), Bernard, Telfer (Camara 74), Redknapp, Quashie, Anders Svensson (Le Saux 63), Crouch, Phillips.
    Subs Not Used: Smith, Higginbotham.

    Booked: Redknapp.

    Goals: Phillips 4, Crouch 13.

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Delaney, Laursen (Solano 45), Samuel, Hendrie, Hitzlsperger, Davis, Barry, Vassell (Cole 36), Angel (Moore 77).
    Subs Not Used: Postma, Berson.

    Booked: Hendrie, Barry.

    Goals: Cole 55, Solano 70, Davis 72.

    Att: 31,926.

    Ref: A D'Urso (Essex).


  • WATCH AND LISTEN
    Interview: Aston Villa boss David O'Leary


    Interview: Southampton boss Harry Redkapp




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