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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Aston Villa 1-1 Bolton
Bolton midfielder Gary Speed
Gary Speed's first Premiership goal for Bolton salvaged a point for the Trotters at Aston Villa.

Speed's powerful header from El-Hadji Diouf's cross cancelled out Fernando Hierro's own goal when he glanced home Nolberto Solano's inswinging corner.

Keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen produced stunning saves from Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel.

A point did little for Bolton's Champions League hopes or Villa's late push for a Uefa Cup spot.

Villa's defence was guilty of slack marking in the opening stages but escaped punishment as Kevin Davies, Diouf and Stelios Giannakopoulos all failed with close-range headers.

Diouf looked particularly lively in an advanced role, with he and Stelios quick to support Davies in a fluid Bolton formation that switched from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3.

Villa worked hard to keep Bolton at bay and got their reward - albeit fortunately - when they took the lead on 25 minutes.

Ulises de la Cruz and El-Hadji Diouf battle for possession
El-Hadji Diouf (right) proves a handful for Ulises de la Cruz

Solano whipped in a corner to the near post where former Real Madrid star Hierro, under no pressure, glanced the ball into his own net.

Vassell should have doubled Villa's lead when he robbed Tal Ben Haim deep inside the Bolton half but Jaaskelainen out-psyched the England striker and spread himself to win the one-on-one duel.

Steve Davis and Thomas Hitzlsperger were winning the midfield contest to give Villa the upper hand and only another sharp save by Jaaskelainen from Jlloyd Samuel denied Villa a second just before the break.

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce attempted to beef up his midfield with the introduction of Ivan Campo, but Jaaskelainen again kept his side alive by denying Davis.

Allardyce's ploy worked, though, as Bolton rounded off a good spell of pressure with an equaliser on 54 minutes.

Diouf was again the architect, showing neat skills to buy himself a yard of space to ping in an inviting cross for Speed to climb above Davis and power home a header.

Campo's physical presence and simple but effective use of the ball was a growing influence on the game as Bolton looked for the win to rekindle their Champions League hopes.

But Jaaskelain again proved a one-man barrier with his best save as he launched himself to his right to paw away Angel's header.

Bolton substitute Kevin Nolan almost grabbed the winner but fired wide of an unguarded goal after Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen flapped a corner into his path.


  • Aston Villa manager David O'Leary:
    "We've taken three points from our last three home games games instead of the nine we should have got.

    "Imagine the difference those eight points would have made to our hopes of qualifying for Europe.

    "It was a good performance but we had enough chances to be out of sight before Bolton equalised."

  • Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
    "Jussi was the star man today and kept us in the game, especially with the save from Darius Vassell when it was 1-0.

    "We have to look at this as a point gained instead of two points lost, but we're still in touch with Everton.

    "We had a few tired legs, which is expected as we have the average oldest squad in the Premiership."


    Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Delaney, Laursen, Samuel, Solano (Cole 79), Davis, Hitzlsperger, Barry, Angel, Vassell.
    Subs Not Used: Hendrie, Postma, Djemba-Djemba, Moore.

    Goals: Hierro 26 og.

    Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (Jaidi 49), N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Gardner, Giannakopoulos, Hierro (Campo 45), Speed, Okocha (Nolan 70), Diouf, Davies.
    Subs Not Used: Poole, Pedersen.

    Booked: Campo, Nolan.

    Goals: Speed 54.

    Att: 36,053

    Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).




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


    Interview: Bolton boss Sam Allardyce




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