Saturday 24 February 2018

Young makes Houllier's night

Aston Villa 3
Blackburn 1

John Curtis

Emile Heskey scored within 30 seconds of his introduction from the bench to spark a stirring Aston Villa revival in Gerard Houllier's first match in charge last night.

The midlanders were trailing 1-0 in this Carling Cup clash when Houllier brought on Heskey just before the hour mark, and the striker did his old Liverpool manager a huge favour by slamming in the the equaliser immediately after replacing John Carew.

Ashley Young played him through, and the former England forward took a touch before firing past Blackburn 'keeper Mark Bunn.

Young then stunned Rovers with a pair of quick-fire goals, heading in at the near post from Nathan Delfouneso's centre and then escaping down the wing before blasting home.

Houllier had made eight changes for his first game in the Villa Park hot seat, although two of those were enforced by injury as Irish duo Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland were sidelined by knee and hamstring problems respectively.

With Blackburn making seven changes, it was clear that the Carling Cup is not particularly important to either side, and Villa Park was barely half full for Houllier's bow.

Still, Blackburn's players were eager for revenge after being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions by Villa last season.

The effervescent Young was keeping their defence on its toes, but Blackburn looked sharp and deservedly went ahead on 34 minutes.

From a long throw, Ciaran Clark's clearing header only went as far as Gael Givet, whose powerful drive flew through a crowd of players into the corner of the net.

However, Rovers had reckoned without Heskey's unlikely heroics.

Irish Independent

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