Carson stares in disbelief after scoring the own goal which doubled Villa's lead
Curtis Davies' header and a Scott Carson own goal sent Aston Villa third in the Premier League with victory in the Midlands derby against West Brom.
Davies returned to haunt his old club by stooping to nod Villa in front from Gareth Barry's right-wing cross against the run of play.
Villa doubled their lead when Carson let a low cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor squirm under his body and into the net.
James Morrison pulled one back but West Brom rarely looked like equalising.
Villa went into the first Premier League game of 2009 knowing that victory would take them back into the top three until at least after Manchester United's clash with Chelsea on Sunday.
But despite their lowly league position it was West Brom who started the brighter only to fail to make the most of their early possession.
Borja Valero wasted the game's first opening, curling a shot high and wide from 15 yards following a Jonathan Greening corner.
O'Neill delighted with West Brom win
Robert Koren then burst on to a Jay Simpson pass but was frustrated to see a deflected shot held by Brad Friedel.
But against the run of play it was the home side who took the lead in the 19th minute after Paul Robinson needlessly conceded a corner.
The Baggies twice escaped when first Morrison and then Greening cleared off the line from Steve Sidwell following Barry's flag kick.
But when Barry was given the chance to deliver another cross, Davies reacted quickest to beat Carson.
With Villa having won all their previous Premier League matches in which they had scored first, the omens did not look good for West Brom.
They could have fallen further behind minutes later when Ashley Young curled a wicked right-foot effort inches wide from the edge of the box, with Carson beaten.
And the unmarked Sidwell should have doubled their lead when he side-footed wastefully wide from 18 yards after ghosting forward to meet James Milner's low pass.
Mowbray feels lack of attacking threat
After surviving those scares Morrison wasted a chance to level when he could only head straight at Friedel from 12 yards from Robinson's pinpoint cross.
He was made to pay four minutes before the break when a dreadful error by Carson, who spent last season on loan at Villa, gifted the home side a second.
Agbonlahor had no support from his team-mates when he cut in from the left but Carson gave him a helping hand by allowing the striker's low cross to squirm under his body and over the line.
Milner went close to making it three with a stinging long-range drive that flew narrowly over but the game turned on Baggies boss Tony Mowbray's decision to bring on Roman Bednar at half-time in place of Luke Moore.
It was a move that paid instant dividends as Bednar nodded into the path of Morrison, who turned inside Laursen before beating Friedel from 18 yards with the aid of a deflection.
West Brom were back in the game but they needed Carson to atone for his earlier error with two fine saves to prevent Villa from re-establishing their two-goal advantage.
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