Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Aston Villa 1 Hull 0

John Carew's first half goal clinched an automatic European spot for Aston Villa for the first time in 11 years and piled on more misery for relegation-threatened Hull at Villa Park.

The Norwegian international struck for his 14th goal of the campaign 11 minutes before the interval to secure Villa's first victory in 13 matches.

The three points moved them back into fifth spot and above Everton but more significantly they are now assured of participating in the revamped Europa League next season.

It represents more progress for Villa under Martin O'Neill despite the disappointment of seeing hopes of competing in the Champions League disappear after their recent lean run.

But Hull remain embroiled in the battle to survive in the top fight and they have collected only two points from their last seven games although they are still three ahead of 18th-placed Newcastle.

Villa were worthy of their first home league success since mid-January despite not firing on all cylinders.

Hull's Boaz Myhill - a former Villa player - was much the busier of the two keepers and his heroics kept the Tigers in contention.

But they lacked a cutting edge and Brad Friedel was seldom tested in the home goal.

Fabio Capello was in attendance to witness a Villa side containing eight England players in the starting line-up.

Hull, with only one win from the previous 18 league games, made a positive start and skipper Ian Ashbee was only just off target with a low volley.

Villa winger James Milner and Ashbee both needed treatment after a full-blooded but fair touchline collision.

Ashbee came off the worse and, although he tried to continue, he was clearly struggling and was replaced after nine minutes by Dean Marney.

Villa came close to taking the lead a minute later when a right-wing cross from Stiliyan Petrov was met by Carew whose glancing header flew only a couple of feet wide of the far post.

Hull defender Michael Turner conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position 20 yards out when he brought down Ashley Young.

And Myhill had to be alert to tip over at full stretch a curling effort from Milner.

Daniel Cousin was fortunate to escape punishment from referee Mike Dean after a lunging challenge on Villa defender Curtis Davies.

Then after 34 minutes Carew broke the deadlock with his 14th goal of the campaign after a lightning counter-attack.

Gareth Barry made the initial break before feeding Ashley Young on the left flank and he had time to check back inside before delivering an inviting dipping cross.

Carew was the first to react and he diverted the ball past the dive of Myhill into the corner of the net.

Geovanni showed a glimpse of his talent when he burst into the Villa box but he dragged his shot across the face of goal.

Myhill did well to tip over a rising Gabriel Agbonlahor shot in injury time.

Hull boss Phil Brown made a half-time substitution with veteran Nick Barmby replacing Geovanni.

But Villa were soon back on the offensive and Myhill again had to be alert to turn aside a drive from Barry.

Milner ventured forward unopposed and found the target with a low, skidding drive which was blocked by Myhill.

Andy Dawson saw a free-kick ricochet off the defensive wall for a corner in a rare moment of concern for the home side.

Kamil Zayatte became the first player to be booked after 77 minutes when he brought down Agbonlahor in full flight.

From Milner's free-kick, Carew headed back across goal and Agbonlahor was denied at point blank range by Myhill.

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