Pedersen scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in Sunday's win
By Paul Fletcher
Morten Gamst Pedersen scored twice as Blackburn defeated Aston Villa at Ewood Park in front of the club's new owners Venkateshwara and Balaji Rao.
Pedersen struck with a free-kick from a tight angle that Brad Friedel should have saved and later diverted a low strike from Ryan Nelsen into the net.
Paul Robinson made good stops from Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, who also headed against the crossbar.
Robert Pires made his debut for Villa as a second-half substitute.
But Rovers led 2-0 by that stage as Villa's five-match unbeaten run came to an end.
Sam Allardyce's Rovers had started the day in 16th but such is the congested nature of the table that their victory lifted them above their opponents and up to 11th.
Team making great progress - Allardyce
Rovers rode their luck at times during what was in many ways a poor and forgettable game, but the home team undoubtedly made the most of their physical superiority, with both their goals coming from set-pieces.
Villa often flattered to deceive - occasionally catching the eye with an attractive phase of play but without a cutting edge in the final third.
Having said that, the largely ineffective Stephen Ireland played a beautifully weighted ball in behind Gael Givet in the third minute to set Downing through on goal but the winger's low strike from a tight angle was saved by Robinson.
Ashley Young was later played in down the left and, after feinting one way then the other, created a yard of space before forcing an excellent one-handed stop with a fierce strike across goal.
Rovers wasted an early opportunity when Chris Samba skewed his strike horribly wide after the ball was rolled into his path from a free-kick. It set the tone for some terrible finishing from the home team as both Givet and David Hoilett contrived to shoot well wide from promising positions.
Givet had a particularly poor opening half and, in addition to being regularly caught out of position, he suffered the misfortune of being accidentally knocked to the floor by referee Michael Oliver and was substituted at the break.
Villa keeper Friedel seemed to spend a large chunk of the contest on the floor as one Blackburn player after another challenged him for aerial balls.
And the physical nature of the match might have been playing on Friedel's mind as he failed to save Pedersen's free-kick on the stroke of the interval.
It had been a sloppy and needless foul for Villa to concede as Stephen Warnock lunged in on El-Hadji Diouf, but Pedersen's strike was from an extremely wide angle and, even allowing for the swerve on the ball, Friedel should not have been beaten.
The goal was the last significant action of the half but Villa responded by upping the tempo after the restart and creating two quick-fire chances.
Players must stop switching off - Houllier
Ashley Young cut in from the left and forced a good save with a 20-yard strike that swerved through the air and, seconds later, headed a Downing cross against the woodwork.
Villa looked good value for an equaliser but Rovers continued to threaten and it took a precise last-ditch sliding tackle from Richard Dunne to take the sting out of a shot from Diouf.
And Villa were punished when they failed to clear a corner, with Pedersen showing good reactions to score his second.
Diouf should have scored a third with a far-post header but missed, while luckless Villa could only look on as a rebound fell to a Rovers player after Robinson palmed clear a shot from Downing.
Former Arsenal favourite Pires had little chance to impress after his 67th-minute introduction but another substitute, Chris Herd, forced a goal-line clearance from Michel Salgado.
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier: "To concede with the last kick of the first half is hard to take. It could have been avoided.
"In the first half we were not that good, in the second we were much better although we did not take our chances.
"We have got to be more clinical and put the ball in the net - that is our problem. We have to blame ourselves for a performance that was not very good."
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