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Aston Villa 1-2 MSK Zilina

By Ian Hughes

MSK Zilina celebrate Peter Styvar's which gave them a 2-0 lead
MSK Zilina celebrate Peter Styvar's which gave them a 2-0 lead

Aston Villa fell to a shock loss to MSK Zilina but still reached the Uefa Cup's last 32, thanks to Hamburg's victory over Slavia Prague.

Zilina took the lead when Vladimir Leitner's cross went straight in.

They doubled their advantage when Peter Styvar converted Peter Pekarik's cross after a breakaway.

Nathan Delfouneso, on his full debut for Villa, scored with a superb left-foot volley but Zilina held on despite having Leitner sent off.

Not that the result mattered in terms of Villa's progress in the competition as Hamburg's 2-0 win guaranteed Martin O'Neill's side a top-three finish in the group.

But O'Neill will not be pleased with the way Villa conceded twice to a side who had previously scored only one goal in the whole of the group stages.

Zat Knight, who had earlier seen a header tipped over the bar by Zilina keeper Dusan Pernis, looked a little at fault for Zilina's first goal.

The defender looked to duck out of heading away Leitner's floated cross and the ball sailed over him and beyond Brad Guzan's dive to nestle in the bottom right corner.


But if the Slovaks' opener owed a little to poor defending and good fortune, their second goal was simply sublime.

A devastating counter-attack saw Adauto carry the ball forward before laying it off to Pekarik to cross for Styvar to finish the move in style.

At that time it was hard to see how an unfamiliar Villa side, which had eight changes from the team that played at the weekend, would claw their way back into the match.

It took a moment of superb skill for 17-year-old striker Delfouneso, who volleyed in superbly after Marlon Harewood had set him up by chesting the ball down at the edge of the box.

Yet the goal did little to improve Villa's fluency and too many crosses failed to find a player as the hosts struggled to take a grip on the game.

In midfield, Villa looked lightweight, and while that changed when James Milner and Gareth Barry were brought on, chances remained sparse.

Craig Gardner saw his shot on the turn saved and Milner fired over from the rebound.

Then Leitner pulled back Ashley Young, having been booked for the same thing earlier, and was sent off after being cautioned again.

Villa tried to make their numerical advantage tell and Barry went close before Gardner should have done much better with a free header that he directed wide.

In injury time, Gardner came close to making amends but his header cannoned back off the post.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Reo-Coker, Knight, Cuellar, Luke Young, Gardner, Salifou (Barry 68), Osbourne (Milner 65), Ashley Young, Delfouneso (Agbonlahor 76), Harewood.
Subs Not Used: Friedel, Laursen, Petrov, Clarke.

Booked: Osbourne.

Goals: Delfouneso 28.

MSK Zilina: Pernis, Pekarik, Vomacka, Sourek, Leitner, Strba, Jez (Tesak 90), Pecalka, Piacek, Adauto (Vladavic 70), Styvar (Rilke 86).
Subs Not Used: Seman, Karoglan, Belak, Poliacek.

Sent Off: Leitner (79).

Booked: Leitner, Pecalka.

Goals: Leitner 16, Styvar 19.

Att: 28,797

Ref: Espen Berntsen (Norway).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's Nathan Delfouneso 7.84 (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
Uefa Cup as it happened
04 Dec 08 |  Europe
Thursday's football photos
04 Dec 08 |  Football

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