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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 17:02 UK

Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland

By Pranav Soneji

John Carew celebrates scoring Villa's second goal with Ashley Young
Goals from Young (left) and Carew saw Villa maintain their excellent start

Goals from Ashley Young and John Carew helped Aston Villa secure a third successive Premier League victory at the expense of Sunderland.

The visitors took the lead when Steed Malbranque's pass was converted by Djibril Cisse on nine minutes.

But Young equalised with a free-kick from 20-yards nine minutes later before Carew scored the winner with a smart flick from Stiliyan Petrov's cross.

An Andy Reid 30-yard free-kick went just wide for Sunderland on 87 minutes.

The victory ensured big-spending Villa maintain their position in the top four of the Premier League, but the match began in complete contrast to how it finished.

Keane disappointed to concede two goals

Villa boss Martin O'Neill kept faith with the same starting XI for the sixth successive Premier League match, once again opting to leave 12m record signing James Milner on the bench.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane made two enforced changes, with Liam Miller making his first start of the season in midfield for the injured Teemu Tainio, while defender Danny Collins replaced Nyron Nosworthy.

With criticism from Keane ringing in their ears after an indifferent mid-week performance against Northampton, Sunderland opened the scoring inside 10 minutes courtesy of a goal created and finished by two of their French summer signings.

Malbranque dissected Villa's defence with a beautifully weighted pass for compatriot Cisse to sweetly strike first time past Brad Friedel from 16 yards.

We fought back brilliantly - O'Neill

The goal galvanised Villa's resolve and the home side were level within eight minutes when Young's 20-yard free-kick sailed over a disorganised wall before curling inside Craig Gordon's right-hand post.

The passing was slick as both sides attempted to control the relentless tempo amid glorious sunshine in the west Midlands.

And it was Villa who took the lead for the first time on 33 minutes, again from another free-kick after Anton Ferdinand had been penalised for handball.

Young fired his free-kick from 30 yards into the wall, but the ricochet rebounded to Petrov, whose driven cross across the box was brilliantly flicked in between his legs by Carew in among a plethora of defenders.

606: DEBATE
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Villa could have had a two-goal cushion at half-time, but Gordon's brilliant double save denied Gabriel Agbonlahor and Gareth Barry in quick succession in the 43rd minute.

A five-minute delay halted the kick-off to the second half when fourth official Steve Bennett had to replace assistant referee Andy Williams, who has suffered a calf strain during the first half.

The second half was a more sedate affair compared with the first, with the first half-chance falling to Cisse, who failed to direct his header from Malbranque's cross goalbound on 59 minutes.

Agbonlahor, uncharacteristically subdued on the flanks for most of the game, eventually made his impact in the 66th minute when his right-foot strike from 25 yards evaded Gordon's right-hand post.

With time running out, Keane made a double substitution in hope of an equaliser, replacing Miller with Reid and Darryl Murphy coming on for El Hadji Diouf.

Despite his side's one-goal advantage, O'Neill opted to attack with midfielder Milner replacing left-back Nicky Shorey.

The last five minutes saw Sunderland press Villa's defence with a sustained period of attack, but the admirable Martin Laursen and centre-back partner Curtis Davies confidently dealt with any potential goal-scoring threat.

Sunderland's best chance of the half fell to Republic of Ireland international Reid, whose 30-yard left-footed free-kick just curled past Friedel's left-hand post on 87 minutes.


Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill:
"I thought we did brilliantly. We had to fight back and try to blow the cobwebs away after losing to QPR in the Carling Cup on Wednesday.

"We didn't have much more energy left and I think the majority of the crowd will forgive us for keeping the ball in the corner in the last few minutes.

"They will forgive us because in terms of entertainment we are as strong as anyone in Britain in that department."

Sunderland boss Roy Keane:
"For all our decent play and good possession, particularly in the second half, we didn't test the keeper enough.

"The first goal was very sloppy, a needless tackle, and the wall could have done better. For the second one we were in possession and gave it away.

"We invited the trouble on and they took full advantage so credit to Villa for that."


Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Davies, Laursen, Shorey (Milner 70), Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Carew (Cuellar 90).
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Knight, Salifou, Gardner.

Booked: Petrov.

Goals: Ashley Young 18, Carew 33.

Sunderland: Gordon, Chimbonda, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque, Whitehead, Richardson (Stokes 79), Miller (Reid 59), Cisse, Diouf (Murphy 59).
Subs Not Used: Fulop, Chopra, Healy, Henderson.

Booked: McCartney.

Goals: Cisse 10.

Att: 38,706

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's Ashley Young 8.51 (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
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
Premier League as it happened
27 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
27 Sep 08 |  Football


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