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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Saturday, 11 December 2010

Aston Villa   2 - 1   West Brom

Villa celebrate their first goal
Downing and Young (pictured) both provided much-needed cutting edge for Villa

By Chris Whyatt

Aston Villa quashed questions over manager Gerard Houllier's early reign by holding on for a hard-fought win over impressive local rivals West Brom.

Somen Tchoyi nearly gave the visitors a deserved lead but when his shot hit the bar Villa soon led as Stewart Downing hooked in Marc Albrighton's fine cross.

Returning striker Emile Heskey nodded a simple second with 11 minutes left from another tasty Albrighton delivery.

Paul Scharner's header pulled one back, but West Brom's late surge fell short.

Holding off a Baggies side boasting technique and invention, spirited Villa put Monday's woeful 3-0 defeat at Liverpool behind them to notch only their second win in the past 11 Premier League matches.

A much-changed team from the XI who started at Anfield fought hard to show that Houllier, who came in for strong criticism after the loss at his beloved former club, can revive a side which is still recovering from the shock departure of influential former boss Martin O'Neill.

Acting captain Richard Dunne was dropped, but Ashley Young was always dangerous on his return from suspension while youngsters Albrighton and Barry Bannan showed rich glimpses of promise.

But West Brom have talent in their ranks too, as the first close call of this West Midlands derby match showed.

Houllier 'relieved' to win

Jerome Thomas, a real threat on the left wing for the visitors most of the afternoon, hit a clever curling shot from long range in the sixth minute.

Striking the ball early, he nearly surprised Villa goalkeeper Brad Freidel but the ball drifted just wide.

With Heskey full of muscular running and Young dropping deep to collect the ball, Villa did possess more cutting edge going forward.

But the hosts still looked a little inexperienced in midfield, as a raft of misplaced passes allowed West Brom to slowly take control.

Able to play after shaking off a groin injury, Baggies midfielder Chris Brunt went close with a decent low shot after turning two home defenders in the box.

Heskey did have an unchallenged headed chance from Downing's decent free-kick but his connection was poor, with the ball slowly trickling towards the corner flag.

Having built up a head of steam with intelligent use of possession, the visitors were inches away from making a breakthrough after 20 minutes.

Patiently twisting defenders inside and out before unleashing a powerful shot, Cameroon midfielder Tchoyi nearly executed a repeat of his brilliant curler against Newcastle last week.

But, with Freidel well beaten, the ball came back off the bar.

Marc-Antoine Fortune smashed a shot just wide soon after but seconds later Villa had scored thanks to Albrighton's magic on the right wing, where his instinctive trickery - nut-megging Marek Cech - allowed the young Englishman to get to the bye-line.

His superb whipped cross was inches away from Young's forehead at the near post, but Downing sprinted to the back post to hook in the ball in with the studs on his trusted left boot from a tight angle.

606: DEBATE
OneLoveOneAlbion

Despite that apparent lack of justice, West Brom continued to probe with Brunt's admirable left foot at the heart of their best work.

Much of Villa's threat before the break came from right-back debutant Eric Lichaj, who would appear to possess a dangerous long throw to rival that of Stoke's Rory Delap.

But the hosts looked more confident after the break, and nearly added a second when Downing's angled cross floated across the box menacingly.

Albrighton, who trained with West Brom as a child, met the ball bravely, but his diving header flew just wide of the post.

Roberto Di Matteo's side, though, nearly equalised in the 55th minute as Gonzalo Jara fired a scuffed shot across the box which James Morrison, connecting cleanly with his shot, might have converted had he favoured placement over power.

With West Brom increasingly pushing forward, Young exposed them by foraging down the right wing to slide an enticing ball across the six-yard box - but nobody was there to convert what would have been a simple finish.

Young was a constant thorn in West Brom's side, who continually hacked away at his blur-of-motion legs like an explorer trekking in dense jungle.

We deserved more - Di Matteo

He won the corner that led to Heskey's fifth goal of the season, the ball falling loose for Albrighton to whip yet another lively ball across the box.

James Collins stretched hard to make a connection but, failing, the ball landed on unmarked Heskey's forehead and was diverted into the net from six yards out.

Yet Scharner put West Brom right back in contention for at least a point, rising high to power Brunt's pacy corner into the net via a deflection on the line.

Brunt then had a last-gasp chance to nick an equaliser but, shooting low after coolly finding space for himself in the box, Collins busted a gut to make a full-blooded block to ensure relieved Villa survived.

Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Barclays Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom FT
(HT 1-0)
  • Downing 25
  • Heskey 80
  • Scharner 89

Aston Villa

Substitutes

West Brom

Substitutes

Ref: HalseyAtt: 37,015
ASTON VILLA
WEST BROM

Possession

  • Aston Villa 48%
  • West Brom 52%

Attempts on target

  • Aston Villa 3
  • West Brom 4

Attempts off target

  • Aston Villa 3
  • West Brom 7

Corners

  • Aston Villa 6
  • West Brom 13

Fouls

  • Aston Villa 8
  • West Brom 14
  • Final Result
  • Full Time
  • 90:00+4:15 The referee brings the game to a close.
  • 90:00+3:00 Somen Tchoyi concedes a free kick for a foul on James Collins. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
  • 90:00+2:02 Substitution Chris Herd is brought on as a substitute for Marc Albrighton.
  • 90:00+1:25 Unfair challenge on Jerome Thomas by Eric Lichaj results in a free kick. Chris Brunt crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.
  • 90:00+0:02 Effort on goal by Jerome Thomas from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
  • 89:00 Chris Brunt provided the assist for the goal.
  • 89:00 GOAL - Paul ScharnerAston Villa 2 - 1 West Brom Paul Scharner finds the net with a headed goal from inside the area. Aston Villa 2-1 West Brom.
  • 88:38 Simon Cox takes a shot. James Collins gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Chris Brunt from the left by-line,
  • 88:01 Inswinging corner taken by Simon Cox.
  • 86:56 Substitution Steven Reid replaces Gonzalo Jara.
  • 85:55 Nigel Reo-Coker concedes a free kick for a foul on Jerome Thomas. Direct free kick taken by Scott Carson.
  • 85:17 Marc Albrighton fouled by Gonzalo Jara, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Ashley Young from left wing.
  • 85:17 Substitution Marc-Antoine Fortune leaves the field to be replaced by Simon Cox.
  • 84:36 The ball is delivered by Chris Brunt, Carlos Cuellar manages to make a clearance.
  • 83:57 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Chris Brunt from the left by-line.
  • 82:57 Substitution Nathan Delfouneso replaces Emile Heskey.
  • 81:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Carlos Cuellar on Ishmael Miller. Free kick crossed by Chris Brunt.
  • 79:06 The assist for the goal came from Marc Albrighton.
  • 79:06 GOAL - Emile HeskeyAston Villa 2 - 0 West Brom Emile Heskey finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Aston Villa 2-0 West Brom.
  • 78:56 The ball is crossed by Stewart Downing.
  • 78:20 Corner from right by-line taken by Ashley Young.
  • 76:41 Foul by Gabriel Tamas on Ashley Young, free kick awarded. Stewart Downing crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Chris Brunt manages to make a clearance.
  • 74:53 Corner taken by Chris Brunt, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
  • 74:53 Substitution Ishmael Miller comes on in place of James Morrison.
  • 72:22 Substitution Barry Bannan goes off and Nigel Reo-Coker comes on.
  • 72:02 Marc Albrighton crosses the ball, clearance by Gonzalo Jara.
  • 71:16 The official flags Ashley Young offside. Paul Scharner takes the free kick.
  • 69:31 The official flags Marc-Antoine Fortune offside. Indirect free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
  • 68:52 Jerome Thomas crosses the ball, Carlos Cuellar manages to make a clearance.
  • 66:36 The ball is sent over by Somen Tchoyi, clearance by Eric Lichaj.
  • 64:31 Jerome Thomas is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
  • 62:59 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young by Gonzalo Jara. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Stewart Downing, clearance made by Chris Brunt.
  • 62:59 Booking Booking for Gonzalo Jara for unsporting behaviour.
  • 62:36 The ball is sent over by Stewart Downing, Paul Scharner makes a clearance.
  • 62:03 Gonzalo Jara concedes a free kick for a foul on Ashley Young. Stewart Downing takes the direct free kick.
  • 59:55 Jerome Thomas gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Ashley Young.
  • 59:55 Booking Jerome Thomas is booked.
  • 58:14 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Ashley Young from the right by-line to the near post, Somen Tchoyi makes a clearance.
  • 58:10 The ball is delivered by Stewart Downing, Marek Cech manages to make a clearance.
  • 57:52 Free kick awarded for a foul by Paul Scharner on Ashley Young. Stewart Downing restarts play with the free kick.
  • 56:53 Effort from inside the area by James Morrison misses to the right of the goal.
  • 55:43 Marc-Antoine Fortune fouled by Marc Albrighton, the ref awards a free kick. Marek Cech takes the free kick.
  • 54:19 Stewart Downing produces a cross, Marc Albrighton has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.
  • 52:21 Ashley Young is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Graham Dorrans restarts play with the free kick.
  • 51:27 A cross is delivered by Jerome Thomas, James Collins manages to make a clearance.
  • 46:18 Ashley Young fouled by Paul Scharner, the ref awards a free kick. Stewart Downing crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, clearance by Gabriel Tamas.
  • 45:39 Gonzalo Jara gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stewart Downing. James Collins takes the free kick.
  • 45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
  • Half Time
  • 45:00+2:18 The referee calls an end to the first half.
  • 45:00+1:31 Corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt from the left by-line, clearance made by James Collins.
  • 44:19 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt from the right by-line, Close range headed effort by Paul Scharner goes wide of the left-hand upright.
  • 43:35 The ball is delivered by Jerome Thomas, save by Brad Friedel.
  • 42:25 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jerome Thomas on Emile Heskey. Brad Friedel takes the free kick.
  • 41:39 Chris Brunt takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, Stewart Downing manages to make a clearance.
  • 40:58 Jerome Thomas produces a cross, clearance by James Collins.
  • 39:04 Barry Bannan concedes a free kick for a foul on Jerome Thomas. Free kick crossed left-footed by Marek Cech, Emile Heskey manages to make a clearance.
  • 36:02 Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ashley Young, clearance made by Chris Brunt.
  • Correction - 35:26 Marc Albrighton fouled by Marek Cech, the ref awards a free kick. Eric Lichaj restarts play with the free kick.
  • 35:26 Marek Cech challenges Marc Albrighton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Eric Lichaj restarts play with the free kick.
  • 33:50 The referee blows for offside against Ashley Young. Free kick taken by Scott Carson.
  • 33:31 Somen Tchoyi is ruled offside. James Collins takes the free kick.
  • 32:38 Barry Bannan has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
  • 31:59 Stewart Downing delivers the ball, clearance by Marek Cech.
  • 31:05 The ball is sent over by Chris Brunt, Unfair challenge on James Collins by Paul Scharner results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Brad Friedel.
  • 30:27 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt, James Collins makes a clearance.
  • 29:15 The ball is crossed by Marek Cech, James Collins makes a clearance.
  • 28:14 Free kick awarded for a foul by Ashley Young on Graham Dorrans. Direct free kick taken by Graham Dorrans.
  • 27:37 Emile Heskey concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul Scharner. Direct free kick taken by Paul Scharner.
  • Correction - 24:22 The assist for the goal came from Ashley Young.
  • 24:22 Assist by Marc Albrighton.
  • 24:22 GOAL - Stewart DowningAston Villa 1 - 0 West Brom Stewart Downing scores a goal from close range to the top left corner of the goal. Aston Villa 1-0 West Brom.
  • 23:06 Corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 21:24 Shot by Marc-Antoine Fortune from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.
  • 20:46 The referee blows for offside against Emile Heskey. Paul Scharner restarts play with the free kick.
  • 20:29 Somen Tchoyi takes a shot.
  • 18:47 Gabriel Tamas gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ashley Young. Centre by Stewart Downing, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Emile Heskey misses to the right of the goal.
  • 18:19 Centre by Ashley Young, save by Scott Carson.
  • 17:37 Corner taken by Ashley Young, Paul Scharner manages to make a clearance.
  • 17:03 Effort from inside the area by Chris Brunt misses to the right of the goal.
  • 15:26 The ball is crossed by Eric Lichaj, Gabriel Tamas manages to make a clearance.
  • 12:57 Corner taken by Chris Brunt from the left by-line to the near post, Emile Heskey makes a clearance.
  • 11:36 Ashley Young is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Carson.
  • 9:52 Corner taken right-footed by Ashley Young, Marc-Antoine Fortune makes a clearance. Jonathan Hogg takes a shot. Save by Scott Carson.
  • 9:21 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing, Chris Brunt makes a clearance.
  • 7:56 Corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt from the right by-line to the near post, Header from close range by James Morrison misses to the right of the goal.
  • 7:18 Jerome Thomas takes a shot. Carlos Cuellar gets a block in. Corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt to the near post, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar.
  • 2:39 Marc Albrighton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Morrison. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Chris Brunt, save by Brad Friedel.
  • 1:45 Corner taken by Chris Brunt played to the near post, clearance made by Carlos Cuellar. Marc-Antoine Fortune takes a shot. Save by Brad Friedel.
  • 0:39 Foul by Chris Brunt on Jonathan Hogg, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Ashley Young.
  • 0:00 The referee gets the game underway.

Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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Barclays Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 11 Dec 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 16 16 32
2 Man City 17 11 32
3 Man Utd 15 19 31
4 Chelsea 16 19 30
5 Tottenham 16 3 26
6 Sunderland 17 2 24
7 Bolton 16 5 23
8 Newcastle 17 1 22
9 Liverpool 17 -1 22
10 Blackpool 16 -5 22
11 West Brom 17 -5 22
12 Stoke 17 -1 21
13 Blackburn 16 -4 21
14 Aston Villa 17 -9 20
15 Everton 17 -2 18
16 Birmingham 16 -2 18
17 Fulham 17 -4 16
18 Wigan 17 -15 16
19 Wolves 16 -13 12
20 West Ham 17 -15 12



see also
Houllier 'relief' after derby win
11 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Saturday football as it happened
11 Dec 10 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
11 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Lawro's Premier League predictions
13 Dec 10 |  Football Focus



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