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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2008, 17:04 GMT
Aston Villa 1-1 Blackburn
By David McIntyre

Ashley Young and Gareth Barry celebrate
Young (right) scored a brilliant goal for the home side
Ashley Young earned a point for Aston Villa with a superbly struck free-kick in front of England boss Fabio Capello.

England goalkeeper Scott Carson saved a first-half penalty from Blackburn's Matt Derbyshire after David Bentley was bundled over by Nigel Reo-Coker.

Rovers did go ahead when Carson parried David Dunn's shot and Roque Santa Cruz pounced to score from the rebound.

Young replied and Villa almost got the winner that would have put them fourth when Marlon Harewood hit the bar.

Winger Young is doubtless a player in which Capello was taking a keen interest, as was Bentley.

Capello also got an unexpected chance to assess Gareth Barry, who handed Villa a big boost by returning from a pelvic injury.


The home side looked sluggish in the first half, though, and Reo-Coker's needless foul on Bentley just inside the area handed Rovers a great chance to go ahead on 23 minutes.

But Carson dived to his right to keep out the resulting spot-kick from Derbyshire, who needed treatment after falling awkwardly while trying in vain to head in the rebound.

Villa continued to struggle after the interval, prompting boss Martin O'Neill to replace Stiliyan Petrov with striker Harewood and switch to three up front.

The change had some effect and Harewood registered Villa's first real attempt on goal when his 25-yard shot was well held by keeper Brad Friedel.

Just as O'Neill's side seemed to be getting their act together, they fell behind in the 67th minute.

Dunn swept past Curtis Davies and after the midfielder's effort was pushed away by Carson, Santa Cruz followed up with a mis-hit shot but he did enough to scramble the ball home.

It was Santa Cruz's ninth goal in as many matches and his 15th of the season.

Fabio Capello
Capello was an interested spectator at Villa Park

But Young hauled Villa level five minutes later, delightfully clipping the ball over Blackburn's defensive wall and into the corner of Friedel's net.

Villa then almost went ahead when Harewood leapt highest to meet Young's free-kick and headed against the woodwork.

Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor latched onto Martin Laursen's flick-on and found the net late on but was rightly denied by an offside flag.

And Young went close with another free-kick as Rovers had to hang on for the draw.

  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
    "It was a tough game and Blackburn made it difficult.

    "We did not play as well as we have but we stuck in there and in the second half we came to the fore and got the equaliser.

    "The number of times we have come from behind this season is terrific I could not have asked for any more from the players."

  • Blackburn boss Mark Hughes:
    "Our performance merited a win and we also missed a penalty, which obviously did not help.  

    "Villa Park is a difficult place to come. They are a big strong powerful side but we matched them.  

    "We had a nice shape and we were well organised and got some reward for it. We are now unbeaten in six games and that is good."

    Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Davies, Bouma, Petrov (Harewood 60), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Knight, Gardner, Osbourne.

    Goals: Young 73.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Samba, Warnock, Reid, Dunn, Bentley, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, Derbyshire (Roberts 87).
    Subs Not Used: Brown, McCarthy, Khizanishvili, Berner.

    Booked: Reid, Samba.

    Goals: Santa Cruz 68.

    Att: 39,602

    Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's Scott Carson 7.55 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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