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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 November 2006, 15:54 GMT
Aston Villa 2-0 Blackburn
By Mark Mitchener

Juan Pablo Angel celebrates Aston Villa's second goal
Angel celebrates after scoring Aston Villa's second goal
A controversial penalty award paved the way for Aston Villa to beat Blackburn and move up to sixth spot in the table.

Skipper Gareth Barry gave Villa a half-time lead from the spot after Andre Ooijer was harshly adjudged to have handled Chris Sutton's cross.

Juan Pablo Angel then made it 2-0 after the break with a good finish when Zurab Khizanishvili was caught in possession.

Blackburn offered little in attack, although David Bentley had a 20-yard drive tipped over by Thomas Sorensen.

If the penalty award itself was harsh, the scoreline was no more than Villa deserved after they had dominated the opening period.

From the early stages, Gabriel Agbonlahor exploited his pace down the right wing against Michael Gray at every opportunity.

Stiliyan Petrov tried his luck with a right-foot shot, which was deflected behind, and from the resulting corner, Martin Laursen - a late inclusion after Liam Ridgewell was taken ill at lunchtime - found room in a ruck of players to fire wide.


As Villa remained in command, Barry curled a free-kick wide from 25 yards, while Brad Friedel came out well to dive at the feet of Angel after Sutton - making his first Villa start against the team he won the Premiership with in 1995 - had nodded down.

Agbonlahor was soon in the action again, crossing for Barry, whose volleyed shot was blocked as Rovers scrambled to get bodies in the way.

Blackburn, sorely missing the injured Robbie Savage in midfield, struggled to give their front men the service they needed when they did break forward.

David Bentley registered their first shot on goal in the 34th minute but his 20-yard effort was easily caught by Thomas Sorensen.

Less than a minute later, he tried his luck again from similar distance and the Dane needed to be sharp to tip the ball over for the visitors' first corner.

But as the game came to life, almost immediately Villa's chance came.

Sutton's cross was hammered towards Ooijer from close range and it struck him on the upper arm as he tried to move his arm out of the way.

But referee Howard Webb waved away the protests, while also showing Ooijer the yellow card for complaining against the decision.

Blackburn's players confront referee Howard Webb (centre)
Blackburn's players confront referee Webb after the penalty award
Friedel had already saved three spot-kicks this season - but Barry made no mistake with a powerful strike into the middle of the goal.

The Villa captain then burst through a minute later but struck the sidenetting from a tight angle, while Petrov saw a free-kick deflected over the bar for a corner after Khizanishvili joined Ooijer in the book for a foul on Sutton.

That corner led to the visitors struggling to clear their lines again as Sutton, Olof Mellberg and Laursen all had scrambled efforts blocked.

Another Agbonlahor cross flashed across goal in first-half stoppage time but just evaded Angel at the far post, while Rovers boss Mark Hughes angrily confronted Webb as the players walked off for the interval.

Blackburn tried to hit back just after the break when Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner missed everyone at the near post and was beaten away by Sorensen.

But Angel doubled Villa's lead when Khizanishvili's mistake allowed the Colombian to burst through and fire in off Friedel's knee.

Blackburn captain Lucas Neill then made an important challenge to deny Angel a second goal as he raced towards the box with only Friedel to beat.

Sutton became the first home player to go into the book for a late challenge on Bentley before Hughes reshuffled his pack, with Francis Jeffers and Sergio Peter replacing Benni McCarthy and Tugay.

But the changes had little effect as the home side stayed in control - while Rovers' Aaron Mokoena was also booked after a poor challenge on McCann.

Pedersen, who created most of Blackburn's few chances, then appealed for a penalty after his free-kick from the edge of the area appeared to strike Petrov's elbow in the defensive wall.

But Villa still looked the more likely side to score, with Sorensen a virtual spectator for much of the game, while Laursen was a rock in defence on the rare occasions that Blackburn threatened.

Rovers also lost the services of Neill in the dying minutes because of injury.

  • Villa manager Martin O'Neill on the penalty decisions:
    "I have seen the penalty again and also the incident where Petrov was involved. If you give one, you probably have to give the other.

    "Some people said it was a very soft penalty - I've seen them given, but if that's the case, Petrov's is the same.

    "But Martin Laursen was outstanding. Liam Ridgewell was ill in the morning, Martin came straight into the side, and I don't think he lost a header."

  • Blackburn boss Mark Hughes:
    "We think the penalty is a poor decision from the referee and his assistant.

    "They are paid to get big decisions right - he didn't get that one right. At that time, we were comfortable.

    "Then in the second half, Petrov has made a movement to the ball with his elbow. It struck his elbow, but the referee doesn't give that one."

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Agbonlahor, Petrov, McCann, Barry, Angel, Sutton (Baros 90).
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Davis, Cahill, Osbourne.

    Booked: Sutton.

    Goals: Barry 41 pen, Angel 50.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Neill (Henchoz 85), Khizanishvili, Ooijer, Gray, Bentley, Mokoena, Kerimoglu (Peter 61), Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy (Jeffers 61).
    Subs Not Used: Brown, McEveley.

    Booked: Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Mokoena.

    Att: 30,089

    Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

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