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Aston Villa 1-1 Middlesbrough

By Matt Braithwaite

Gareth Barry
Barry sent goalkeeper Schwarzer the wrong way for the equaliser

Gareth Barry's penalty rescued a point for Aston Villa against Middlesbrough.

The England star struck home from the spot in the second half after Luke Young was harshly judged to have handled Ashley Young's shot.

Stewart Downing had given the visitors a deserved lead when he latched onto Zat Knight's poor clearance and struck low past Scott Carson's right hand.

Carson was the busier of the keepers though Boro had Mido to thank for a goal-line clearance from John Carew.

Middlesbrough dominated the first half, Robert Huth's early header over the bar signalling the visitors' intent.

Gareth Southgate's men nearly took the lead when Tuncay Sanli broke clear in the area but Carson was alert to make an excellent point-blank save, the ball rebounding to Mido, who fired narrowly wide.

Boro continued to press and Mohamed Shawky fired over from the edge of the area following a sweeping move.

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Villa were guilty of repeated unforced errors and it was Knight's mistake that set up Downing for the goal.

The hosts finally had a sight of goal shortly after but Young screwed his shot well wide from 20 yards.

But Boro continued to threaten, Shawky firing a foot wide of Carson's right hand post from 25 yards, and Gary O'Neil's defence-splitting pass nearly setting up Tuncay.

Villa nearly equalised through Carew but his shot from six yards was cleared by the lively Mido with Mark Schwarzer beaten.

Stewart Downing and Zat Knight
Downing, pursued by Knight, fires in the opening goal

Two half-time substitutions by Martin O'Neill, bringing on Marlon Harewood and Olof Mellberg, helped his side make a better fist of things in the second half.

But despite a Barry chip onto the roof of the net and a weak Young header directly at Schwarzer, they rarely looked like scoring until the penalty was awarded.

Boro could feel aggrieved as a shot by Villa's Young hit his Boro namesake on the elbow and referee Steve Bennett pointed to the spot.

Barry struck the penalty calmly to Schwarzer's right as the keeper went the wrong way.

Tempers began to fray towards the end as Boateng and Huth were booked for needless offences.

  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
    "It was a hugely frustrating night and we just couldn't get going. We did not play well and did not deserve any more than the point.

    "It was a particularly poor first half and it took us too long to get going.

    "Our performance concerned me. We didn't create enough in the game and that is what disappointed me. We have to be a bit more inventive."

  • Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
    "I have seen the penalty incident again and our lad (Luke Young) has got his back to the play.

    "The shot is hit from only a couple of yards away and I don't see the handball is anything but involuntary.

    "We should have wrapped the game up but we are fighting for our lives and it was a very difficult decision to take."

    Aston Villa: Carson, Gardner (Mellberg 46), Knight, Laursen, Bouma, Maloney (Harewood 46), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Salifou, Osbourne.

    Goals: Barry 74 pen.

    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Huth, Wheater, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Boateng, Shawky, Downing, Sanli, Mido (Cattermole 83).
    Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Rochemback, Johnson, Grounds.

    Booked: Shawky, Schwarzer, Mido, Boateng, Huth.

    Goals: Downing 23.

    Att: 39,874

    Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing 7.61 (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.

    see also
    Live - Uefa Cup & Premier League
    12 Mar 08 |  Football
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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