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Match report: Villa 2-1 West Brom
Downing and Heskey fire Villa back to winning ways.
11th Dec 2010
Match report: Villa 2-1 West Brom


By Dan Harrison

Stewart Downing and Emile Heskey scored the goals as Villa sent the Baggies packing to return to winning ways.

The claret and blues produced a morale-boosting derby day performance to bounce back after four straight defeats.

With Heskey back to lead the line in attack, Villa were reinvigorated.

The former England striker was a nuisance to the West Brom defence and could have given his side an early lead when his glancing header from a Downing cross went narrowly off target.

Gerard Houllier admitted his team's confidence was low after the recent run of defeats but there was little evidence of this against Albion.

Any tension around Villa Park was eased when Downing struck on 25 minutes with the sort of goal that has become a trademark for Villa's top scorer this term.

Once again Marc Albrighton supplied the ammunition. His cross was helped on at the near post with a deft header from Ashley Young and Downing timed his arrival perfectly to fire past Scott Carson.

For all the home side's incisive passing and relative comfort in possession, Roberto Di Matteo's men put their defence under scrutiny, forcing a succession of first-half corners.

However, Villa's rejigged back four - Carlos Cuellar and Eric Lichaj coming in for Richard Dunne and Luke Young - showed tremendous solidity and composure.

There were a couple of let-offs - Somen Tchoyi curling an effort off the bar and Fortune shooting straight at Brad Friedel from close range - but it was so far, so good in Villa's ploy to reclaim the title of clean sheet kings.

Unfortunately the hosts were a minute shy of shutting out their opponents thanks to Paul Scharner's bullet header late on.

But by then Houllier's men were in the driving seat. Albrighton went close to doubling the advantage after the break when he headed a Downing cross just wide.

And on 79 minutes, the Tamworth-born winger produced another assist to allow Heskey to extend Villa's lead.

This time James Collins threw himself at Albrighton's cross. The Welshman couldn't connect properly with his diving header but Heskey got the final touch to guide the ball home from six yards.

The Baggies had chances in the second period too - Tchoyi's teasing low cross deflecting just wide while Gonzola Jara shot wide from Marc-Antoine Fortune's cutback.

Sharner powered home a header in the final minute from Brunt's corner but the Austrian's strike proved to be a mere consolation.

VILLA: Friedel; Lichaj, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock, Bannan, Hogg, Downing, Albrighton, A Young, Heskey. Subs: Dunne, Carew, Guzan, Pires, Herd (for Albrighton, 90), Delfouneso (for Heskey, 83), Reo-Coker (for Bannan, 73).

WEST BROM: Carson, Jara, Cech, Tamas, Scharner, Tchoyi, Thomas, Dorrans, Brunt, Morrison, Fortune. Subs: Myhill, Shorey, Ibanez, Cox (for Fortune, 86), Miller (for Morrison, 75), Reid (for Jara, 87), Mulumbu.

 

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