Belfast Telegraph

Milner ices Villa triumph

James Milner turned the jeers to cheers after his strike sealed a comprehensive 3-0 victory over West Ham in what could be his final appearance for Aston Villa.

The England international appears to be on the verge of signing for Manchester City in a deal, believed to be worth £30million, which could see Stephen Ireland move in the opposite direction.

Milner's name was booed when it was read out before the match but his second-half strike at the Holte End brought Villa Park to its feet.

Villa were already well in the ascendancy, courtesy of first-half goals from Stewart Downing and Stiliyan Petrov, as they proved there can be life after Martin O'Neill.

Kevin MacDonald was left to take charge after O'Neill walked out as manager earlier in the week but Villa put all that disruption behind them with a commanding performance.

Ashley Young and Marc Albrighton ripped the hapless Hammers to shreds, Downing was named man of the match, and Villa were unfortunate not to have won by double the scoreline.

The inevitable opener duly came after 15 minutes when Robert Green parried Young's fierce cross out to Albrighton, who volleyed the rebound goalwards and forced the visiting keeper into a diving save.

But Green could only push the ball to Downing who scored from the six-yard line. The officials waved away West Ham's strong appeals for offside.

It was 2-0 when Albrighton once again got the better of Herita Ilunga before pulling the ball back to Young, who picked out Petrov's driving run into the box, and the Bulgarian headed Villa into a 2-0 lead.

Villa wrapped up the game when Albrighton bustled his way past James Tomkins and pulled the ball back for Milner, who lashed a first-time shot home.


From Belfast Telegraph