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Young keeps Villa among the elite

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Sep 2008

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Ashley Young was Aston Villa’s hero as Martin O’Neill’s men came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over Sunderland that keeps them firmly ensconced in the top four.

Young’s 25-yard free-kick cancelled out Djibril Cisse’s opener for the Black Cats and it was another deadball strike from the England international that led to their winner, cutely back-heeled in by Norwegian striker John Carew.

The formula that has served Villa well this season was again applied as O’Neill named an unchanged side for a sixth successive league match.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane handed a first start of the season to Irish midfielder Liam Miller but Michael Chopra had to be content with a bench berth despite scoring twice in last weekend’s victory over Middlesbrough.

A bright start by Sunderland, during which Miller tested Brad Friedel after finding space in the box, yielded an opener after only ten minutes.

Steed Malbranque was the architect, powering forward before playing Cisse in between Martin Laursen and Curtis Davies and the French striker produced a textbook low finish into the bottom corner to beat Friedel.

Villa might have been ahead themselves by that stage with Laursen having headed straight at Craig Gordan after being picked out by Gareth Barry’s corner.

The home fans did not have long to wait however and Villa drew level in the 18th minute after Young was pulled down by Miller 25 yards out.

Young got up to to curl the ball through the end of the wall and into the net.

It was another free-kick from Young that led to Villa’s second. This time the wall did its job by blocking Young’s strike but the loose ball fell to Stiliyan Petrov and the Bulgarian’s low cross was flicked past Gordon by Carew for the Norwegian’s fifth goal of the campaign.

Villa dominated from then on and Barry might have extended their lead before the break. Luke Young’s cross was perfectly delivered but the England midfielder directed his header straight at Scotland goalkeeper Gordon.

Carew’s goal was to prove the winner but Villa, looking badly fatigued towards the end of their fifth game in 13 days, had to hang on in the second half, although the closest Sunderland went to an equaliser was when Miller send a 30-yard effort dipping just over the bar shortly after the restart.

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