Match report: Blackburn 2-0 Villa
A double strike from Morten Gamst Pedersen meant Villa once again returned from their travels with a result that didn't match the quality of their performance.
Pedersen's free-kick in the first period deceived goalkeeper Brad Friedel, before the Rovers winger found himself in the right place at the right time after the break to score a second from close range.
It was a similar story to the recent away trips to Sunderland and Fulham, as Gerard Houllier's team left with less than they deserved.
After a first-half in which the visitors completely dominated with some delightful passing football, it came as a huge body blow to be trailing.
The withdrawals of James Collins (calf) and Marc Albrighton (illness) forced boss Houllier into a reshuffle, with Stephen Ireland starting in an advanced midfield role and Ciaran Clark slotting in to central defence.
It gave summer signing Ireland the opportunity to ignite his stop-start Villa career and the early signs were promising.
The former Manchester City ace displayed some terrific touches as he and Stewart Downing combined with menace.
In the third minute Downing motored in from the right wing to meet Ireland's incisive through ball but Paul Robinson blocked the winger's shot with his legs.
And Blackburn's goalkeeper produced an even better save to keep out Ashley Young.
His strong arm diverted Young's rasping drive across goal to safety after the Villa ace worked his magic to the left of the Rovers goal.
Another fine flowing move for Villa resulted in Barry Bannan curling a shot wide across goal. A searching cross-field run from Stephen Warnock was halted by Ryan Nelsen and Bannan regained possession but couldn't guide his effort into the far corner.
Sam Allardyce's men were at their most dangerous from set pieces - Junior Hoilett slicing a volley off target after a corner was cleared into his path, while Chris Samba headed Pedersen's free-kick off target.
And it was another dead ball situation that led to Villa's undoing - even if there was a stroke of fortune about Pedersen's deadlock breaker.
In first-half stoppage time, the Norwegian lined up a free-kick to the right of Villa's penalty area. His inswinging delivery was hit to the back post and deceived Friedel on its way into the top corner.
If that was tough for the claret and blues to take, Pedersen's second on 66 minutes proved to be even more of a sickening blow.
Again, it was an effective piece of play, if not the most eye-catching.
Richard Dunne charged down the initial shot from Jason Roberts and when, Nelsen fired the ball back into the mix, Pedersen was on hand to stab it home.
Villa were still reeling from Young's double chance moments earlier.
Firstly, the England international had a stinging shot beaten away by Robinson and within seconds he met a header from Downing's cross which cannoned off the bar.
That in itself offered a clear enough indication that it wasn't going to be Villa's day.
The introduction of Robert Pires for his debut gave the travelling support a glimmer of hope, although it was a lot to ask for the Frenchman to influence proceedings at that stage.
Pires' 22-minute cameo confirmed that his skill and elegance have not diminished since his last appearance in the Premier League four years ago.
But overall it was a frustrating afternoon for Villa, summed up by yet another fine two-handed save from Robinson to keep out a thumping Downing effort late on.
BLACKBURN: Robinson, Samba, Givet, Nelsen, Dunn, El Hadji Diouf, Pedersen, Hoilett, Salgado, Jones, Roberts. Subs: Bunn, Kalinic, Goulon (for Pedersen, 72), Hanley, Morris, Chimbonda (for Givet, HT), Mame Biram Diouf (for Hoilett, 64).
VILLA: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Clark, Warnock; Downing, Ireland, Hogg, Bannan; Young, Agbonlahor. Subs: Herd (for Hogg, 81), Pires (for Ireland, 68), Delfouneso (for Agbonlahor, 78), Lichaj, Osbourne, Lowry, Guzan.
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