Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Rampant Villa rout Blackburn at Ewood

CAPTAIN'S PERFORMANCE Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill praised his skipper Gareth Barry, who was one of four players to score in his side's fourth consecutive win

AFP , BLACKBURN, ENGLAND

In-form Aston Villa ran riot in Blackburn on Wednesday night with a resounding 4-0 victory at Ewood Park which moved them up to sixth in the English Premier League.

Rovers had dominated the first half hour only to be denied by a mixture of poor finishing and fine saves from Scott Carson before John Carew put the visitors ahead after 29 minutes.

England keeper Carson kept his nerve to keep Villa on level terms and Gareth Barry scored their second from the penalty spot after Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen was sent off in the 53rd minute.

Manager Martin O'Neill hailed a "majestic" captain's performance from Barry which moves his side to within a point of fourth-placed Chelsea.

"I thought Gareth was terrific. He played a captain's role and was really strong and very good. I thought he was majestic tonight," O'Neill said.

Rovers boss Mark Hughes agreed with the penalty decision but questioned whether Nelsen deserved to get sent off on a night when his side struggled with a number of the referee's decisions.

"I think he's given it for a shirt pull and it was probably the right decision but I don't think it warranted a sending-off in fairness," Hughes said.

"From that point on we were trying to get back into the game at 2-0 down but they got a couple of breakaways, both of which I had my doubts about because I thought they might be offside," the former Manchester United striker said.

"But it was just one of those nights we've got to draw a line under and move on. We know Villa aren't four goals better than us and so do they. This is not going to dent our confidence," the Welshman said.

Villa had justifiable claims for a second penalty dismissed 12 minutes from time after Ashley Young tumbled in the box under pressure from defender Christopher Samba.

Young responded by sealing Villa's victory two minutes later with a superb finish past Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel after getting onto the end of Gabriel Agbonlahor's cut-back to the edge of the box.

And to round off a thoroughly impressive evening substitute Marlon Harewood grabbed the fourth in the final minute after Friedel could only parry Carew's initial shot into his path to seal Villa's fourth consecutive victory.

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