Belfast Telegraph

Villa claim derby triumph over WBA

Stewart Downing and Emile Heskey provided a much-needed lift for Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier as their goals earned a 2-1 victory over derby rivals West Brom at Villa Park.

Downing struck his sixth goal of the campaign after 25 minutes and fit again Heskey wrapped up the points 10 minutes from time before a late consolation from Paul Scharner.

Victory ended a run of three successive Barclays Premier League defeats and eased Villa's relegation fears.

Albion, bidding for a hat-trick of league wins, were the first to settle.

A fine pass from Graham Dorrans enabled Chris Brunt to get in a shot, despite the attention of two defenders, which flew across the face of goal.

Albion stepped up a gear and the woodwork denied Somen Tchoyi the opening goal after 21 minutes. He twice twisted past James Collins before beating Brad Friedel with a shot that thumped against the crossbar.

Downing put Villa ahead against the run of play when Dorrans lost possession deep in his own half and allowed Marc Albrighton to run to the byline. His cross was flicked on by Ashley Young at the far post and then Downing got in front of Gonzalo Jara to turn the ball past Scott Carson.

Albrighton came close to doubling Villa's lead after 55 minutes. Downing supplied a teasing cross from the left which picked out Albrighton, but he headed just wide when under pressure from Marek Cech.

Heskey just failed to make contact with a low cross from Young but with 10 minutes left the former England forward made sure of the points for Villa. Albrighton's cross flicked off Collins across the face of goal and Heskey was perfectly placed to nod home from close range.

Paul Scharner reduced the arrears with a minute remaining with a powerful close-range header but Houllier's men secured maximum points.

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