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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Saturday, 7 February 2009

Blackburn 0-2 Aston Villa

By Mandeep Sanghera

James Milner and his Aston Villa team-mates celebrate after his goal at Blackburn
Milner (centre) gave his side the lead with a superb strike

Aston Villa moved up to third in the Premier League and also set a club record of seven away wins on the trot by beating Blackburn.

James Milner put the Villa ahead when he angled a superb strike into the far side of net after a well-worked corner.

Rovers struggled to create a clear-cut chance and were denied two penalties when Gareth Barry held Benni McCarthy and Zat Knight tugged at Jason Roberts.

Gabriel Agbonlahor drove in a deflected shot off Ryan Nelsen to seal the win.

Villa's 10 away wins in the Premier League is the best record so far this season and has owed plenty to their ability to soak up pressure and catch teams out with their pace in attack.

Their aerial threat adds another danger and one from which they should have taken the lead in the early minutes of the game.

O'Neill salutes "wonderful victory"

Emile Heskey was unmarked at the far post from a corner but headed wide from six yards.

The striker did have had the ball in the net soon after from a Barry free-kick but his effort was disallowed for a push on defender Christopher Samba.

A dominant Villa posed a constant threat and eventually took the lead when Milner let fly with a left-foot shot into the far side of the goal after a cunning short corner with Barry.

Blackburn were unbeaten in nine games prior to the game but found breaking through the Villa ranks a hard task.

When the home side did get a sight on goal, Barry appeared to hold McCarthy as the two challenged for a header, with the referee waving away Rovers' appeals for a penalty.

Almost immediately, Villa went up the other end and Agbonlahor slotted in only for any celebrations to be curtailed by a narrow ruling of offside.


Blackburn were hanging on towards the end of the first half and only some last-ditch defending denied Heskey after a piercing Agbonlahor run.

Keeper Paul Robinson palmed a fiercely struck Milner shot round the post and Villa continued to press after the break.

Blackburn's efforts to work their way back into the game were being thwarted by some resolute Villa defending, which saw Knight appear to hold Roberts as another appeal for a Rovers spot-kick fell by the wayside.

Allardyce gives credit to Villa

The home side's need to press forward made the pace of Ashley Young an even bigger threat and he raced down the right to set up Milner.

He should have had a second only to send a shot across goal and just wide.

Agbonlahor eventually struck to secure Villa's win, which was a 13th successive match without a defeat for the Midlands club and equalled their best run in top-flight since 1898.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce:
"We never really played to our best.

"Credit to Villa as they didn't just stop us playing but played well themselves. They deserved the win."

On the unsuccessful penalty appeals, Allardyce added: "They were not major. You've seen them given and not given but it wasn't to be."

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
"I'm absolutley delighted to have won the game. It's another away win and it's fantastic going.

"We deserved to win the game. I felt we were excellent and created a lot of chances.

"The team just keep going. They were terrific not just in terms of energy and commitment but ability."

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Pedersen, Grella, Andrews (Kerimoglu 46), Dunn (Diouf 46), McCarthy, Roberts (Roque Santa Cruz 74).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Khizanishvili, Villanueva, Givet.

Booked: McCarthy, Kerimoglu.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar (Gardner 46), Davies, Knight, Luke Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Heskey (Carew 70), Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Sidwell, Delfouneso, Salifou, Shorey.

Goals: Milner 27, Agbonlahor 90.

Att: 24,267

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: James Milner on 8.68 (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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see also
Saturday's football photos
07 Feb 09 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
07 Feb 09 |  Premier League

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