Aston Villa eased their relegation worries and jumped to 14th place in the English Premier League table with a 1-0 home win over Newcastle.
A James Collins header in the first half won the game at Villa Park, but in truth there could have easily been more goals as the home side dominated proceedings.
The goal came in the 24th minute, with Ashley Young?s free kick finding Collins, who glanced past helpless United goalkeeper Steve Harper into the top corner.
Striker Darren Bent went close to extending Villa’s lead when he headed over winger Stewart Downing?s cross from close range, while Downing himself almost got on the score sheet with a decent strike from 20 yards out.
Bent thought he had doubled Villa?s lead on the stroke of half-time after he converted Jean Makoun?s pass, but the striker was ruled offside when the decision could have easily gone the other way.
Villa started the second half in similar fashion, with forward Gabby Agbonlahor creating a chance for himself that had Harper at full stretch.
Ashley Young then finished off a patient build up with a shot that flashed inches wide of the goal frame.
Newcastle were a shadow of the side that beat Wolves so convincingly last week, with Brad Friedel in the Villa goal only called upon in the final few minutes.
Striker Nile Ranger had a chance early in the game, but he chose to place rather than use power and Friedel easily saved.
Friedel needed to be aware to deny Peter Lovenkrands twice in the closing stages, firstly stopping a header with two minutes left and then being on hand to save with his feet in injury time.
The result will bring a welcome three points for Gerard Houllier?s side, which is now five points clear of the bottom three with six games remaining.
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