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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Aston Villa 2-1 Reading
By John Sinnott

Juan Pablo Angel
Angel's penalty turned the game in Villa's favour
Aston Villa's encouraging start under new manager Martin O'Neill continued with a win over 10-man Reading.

The visitors took an early lead after Seol Ki-Hyeon's cross was calmly headed in by Kevin Doyle, before Villa equalised with a debatable penalty.

Ibrahima Sonko was adjudged to have fouled Luke Moore, which resulted in the Senegal defender's dismissal and Juan Pablo Angel's converted penalty.

Villa's winner came after Gareth Barry headed in Peter Whittingham's cross.

O'Neill had received a rapturous reception when he emerged from the tunnel before the start of the game and his decision to bring on Whittingham only served to further illustrate the former Celtic boss' apparent Midas touch.

With practically his first kick of the game Whittingham delivered an inviting cross that Barry was able to glance past Marcus Hahnemann.

Not that O'Neill did not experience some anxious moments in his first win as Villa manager as his team struggled to react to Reading's early goal.

Villa had secured a creditable draw away at Arsenal on Saturday by playing on the counterattack but Doyle's strike required the home side to adopt a different tactical approach.

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Initially Villa appeared without the wit to unpick Reading, but Sonko's clumsy defending allowed the home side to equalise as well providing them with a crucial man advantage.

To their credit even at a numerical disadvantage Reading were never outclassed by Villa, but they were unable to really stretch the home side's defence.

In their opening Premiership match on Reading had conceded two early goals, but Steve Coppell's side did not make the same mistake on Wednesday as they took a fourth-minute lead.

Seol jinked past Moore before flighting the ball to the far post, a cross that was expertly headed in by the unmarked Doyle.

The South Korean midfielder - powerful and strong on the ball - had an impressive game for Reading and early in the second half he tested Sorensen with an accurate shot

Having taken an early lead it was Reading that continued to look the more likely side to score, notably when Steve Sidwell flashed a shot past the post.

Before Angel scored his penalty the Colombian had had the ball in the net, but he was ruled offside.

Moore also had a goal disallowed, again the result of Angel straying into an offside posiiton.

Angel's decision making proved shrewder from the penalty spot after referee Lee Mason ruled Sonko had denied Moore a goalscoring opportunity and the Colombian sent Hahnemann the wrong way.

Sonko's sending-off prompted a tactical switch as Coppell withdrew striker Leroy Lita, replacing him with Brynjar Gunnarsson.

Moore continued to trouble the Reading defence and although he was unable to add a third goal the visitors were never able to get enough men forward to threaten the Villa goal.


  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:

  • "We're delighted with the points but we know we've a lot of work to do.

    "I've got to do a lot of work for the crowd to stay with us as they've seen a few false dawns in the past.

    "Psychologically the sending off gave us a big, big lift. I'm delighted with the three points."

  • Reading manager Steve Coppell:

  • "It was an awkard slip - a tangle of legs - but Ibrahima Sonko wasn't looking at the Aston Villa player.

    "It's not our way. Last year we didn't have a player sent off but you knew it was going to happen.

    "It was a massive turning point, but I'm pleased with out contribution to the game and didn't go into our shell."


    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel (Whittingham 59), Moore, Davis, McCann, Barry, Agbonlahor, Angel.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Laursen, Hendrie, Djemba-Djemba.

    Booked: McCann, Samuel.

    Goals: Angel 34 pen, Barry 61.

    Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon, Harper, Sidwell, Convey (Hunt 65), Doyle (Long 81), Lita (Gunnarsson 36).
    Subs Not Used: Stack, Oster.

    Sent Off: Sonko (33).

    Booked: Ingimarsson.

    Goals: Doyle 4.

    Att: 37,329.

    Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).

    SEE ALSO
    Wednesday's football photos
    23 Aug 06 |  Football


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