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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 April 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Blackburn 1-2 Aston Villa
By Richard Hookham

Gabriel Agbonlahor (left) and Ryan Nelson
Match winner Agbonlahor (left) tangles with Ryan Nelson
Gabriel Agbonlahor grabbed a second-half winner as Aston Villa came from a goal down to take three crucial points at Ewood Park.

Rovers went ahead with a Benni McCarthy penalty on 22 minutes after David Bardsley felled Morten Gamst Pedersen.

But Villa drew level nine minutes later as Patrik Berger cleverly clipped home Bardsley's cross from the right.

Gareth Barry's penalty was saved after the break but Agbonlahor struck on 72 minutes to give Villa maximum points.

Villa, who went into the game having claimed just one win in seven top-flight outings, came flying out of the blocks and pinned Rovers deep into their own half.

Their pressure nearly paid off when Shaun Maloney's near-post corner needed to be headed clear by Pedersen on his own goalline in the second minute.

Blackburn responded with two weak efforts from David Bentley, who was recalled after suspension as the only change to the Rovers side which lost last week to Manchester United.

But against the run of play, the home side went ahead when Pedersen burst into the Villa penalty area and was chopped down by Bardsley.

Referee Martin Atkinson pointed the spot and McCarthy fired home for his 19th goal of the season in 43 appearances.

Villa made a quick response when Craig Gardner's cross slid across the Rovers area, although no one was there to finish the chance off.

606: DEBATE

But they deservedly bagged an equaliser when Bardsley made up for his earlier error with an incisive ball into the box and veteran midfielder Berger cleverly guided it past Brad Friedel, who was making his 108th consecutive Rovers appearance.

The American stopper pulled off a great save moments later, however, when he blocked Barry's shot after the England midfielder pulled the ball back on to his right-foot.

And Friedel produced more heroics a minute into the second half. Ryan Nelsen handballed just inside the 18-yard box for the 11th penalty Rovers have conceded this season.

Friedlel guessed correctly and dived to his left to push the shot to safety to deny Barry his 10th goal of the season.

That seemed to lift the hosts who looked the better side in the second period, perhaps knowing places were up for grabs for next week's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

But just as Rovers seemed set to push for a winner, they were undone by Berger's through ball which enabled the electric Agbonlahor to burst forward and fire home.

Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen made a fabulous save to block Shabani Nonda's header deep into injury time before Rovers were denied a penalty appeal for handball and then Bentley rattled the crossbar with a curling effort.

The final whistle could not have come quickly enough for Martin O'Neill's side as Villa hang on by their fingertips for a crucial win that moves them further step away from the relegation zone.


  • Blackburn boss Mark Hughes:

    Hughes said: "We never got any momentum going after we got the opening goal and did not create enough chances.

    "We did not ask enough questions of Villa, although you have to give them some credit for the way they came back at us to win the game.

    "We have probably got to go on and win every game now to get into Europe."

  • Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill on Gabriel Agbonlahor:
    "The goal he got against Everton gave him a big boost.

    "The next day he signed a contract - and he deserved it. He is not the type of lad to sit back and think 'I've done it'. He has lots to do of course but today he was superb.

    "He took the goal brilliantly, just a little extra touch. It is never easy beating someone like Brad Friedel."


    Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Mokoena, Kerimoglu (Dunn 63), Pedersen, McCarthy, Derbyshire (Nonda 63). Subs Not Used: Brown, Henchoz, Roberts.

    Booked: Samba, McCarthy.

    Goals: McCarthy 24 pen.

    Aston Villa: Sorensen, Bardsley (Hughes 80), Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Gardner, Petrov, Barry, Maloney (McCann 76), Agbonlahor, Berger (Davis 84).

    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Moore.

    Booked: Petrov.

    Goals: Berger 34, Agbonlahor 73.

    Att: 24,211

    Ref: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).



    SEE ALSO
    Premiership clockwatch
    07 Apr 07 |  Premiership
    Saturday's Premiership photos
    07 Apr 07 |  Football


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