Tue, Nov 21, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Aston Villa miss chance to move into third place

AP , LONDON

Aston Villa was held to a 0-0 draw by Wigan on Sunday, missing the chance to move into third place in the English Premier League.

Villa stayed in fifth place in the standings -- behind Manchester United, Chelsea, Portsmouth and Arsenal -- while Wigan moved up one place to ninth.

Tottenham rallied to a 1-1 draw at Blackburn in a match where both clubs finished with 10 men.

Wigan's best chance came from midfielder Lee McCullough, who had an early header stopped by Aston Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and then sent the rebound over.

Wigan defender Emmerson Boyce almost deflected the ball into the net, but it was cleared by Villa defender Liam Ridgwell.

"They were miles better than us in the first half, but then after halftime we came into the game more and looked more dangerous," Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill said. "But it would have been harsh on Wigan if we had sneaked the three points, so overall I think we have done well."

Wigan had its first 0-0 draw since being promoted to the Premier League last year and manager Paul Jewell was impressed.

"In the first half, that's as well as we have played in the Premiership," Jewell said. "We were really good and all that was missing for the icing on the cake was a goal or goals."

For Aston Villa, captain Gareth Barry sent a shot over the crossbar in the 52nd minute, and Peter Whittingham clipped the outside of the right post in the first half.

Blackburn midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu scored with a 25m volley in the 23rd minute. He was sent off in the 60th minute for a foul on Tottenham midfielder Hossam Ghaly.

"I'm incensed. It was a genuine attempt to get across the guy. No intent whatsoever," Blackburn manager Mark Hughes said. "We tried to get the assistant to change his mind but he decided to send him off."

Jermain Defoe made it 1-1 from the resulting penalty kick in the 62nd. Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel dived to his right but couldn't get to the ball in time.

Ghaly was shown a red card in second-half injury time for a high tackle on defender Michael Gray.

Tottenham manager Martin Jol was then sent to the stands for protesting Ghaly's dismissal with referee Phil Dowd.

"All I wanted to do was protect my player," Jol said. "I said, `You are totally wrong.' And he said, `You can go as well.' Hopefully he will rethink the situation."

Tottenham stayed in 13th place while Blackburn remained in 15th.

Manchester United leads the league with 34 points after a 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday. Wayne Rooney scored twice.

Two-time defending champion Chelsea is second with 31 points after a 1-0 win over West Ham. Arsenal slipped further off the pace, drawing 1-1 at home against struggling Newcastle.

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