Winning start for Houllier as Villa dump Blackburn out again

GERARD HOULLIER marked his first match as Aston Villa boss with a victory as two goals from Ashley Young and substitute Emile Heskey inspired a Carling Cup comeback against Blackburn last night.

Rovers were the better side in the first half and deservedly led at the interval through Gael Givet’s stunning strike.

But Heskey levelled matters with his first touch after 59 minutes and then Young struck twice in quick succession to see Villa reach the last 16.

Rovers must be sick of the sight of Villa after being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions by them last season.

Villa looked out of sorts in the first 45 minutes as Houllier opted for a 4-3-3 formation with John Carew flanked by Gabriel Agbonlahor and Young.

But they were transformed in the second half with Young in inspired form but midfielder Barry Bannan and defender Carlos Cuellar also made key contributions.

Villa Park was under half full for Houllier’s first match at the helm as he made eight changes from the side which faced Bolton at the weekend.

Villa suffered a setback after 31 minutes when Agbonlahor limped out of the action to be replaced by England U21 Nathan Delfouneso.

Then after 34 minutes Rovers stunned Villa by taking the lead through Givet’s powerful strike.

Pedersen’s throw was headed out by Ciaran Clark to Givet, whose powerful drive flew through a crowd of players into the corner of the net.

It needed a fine save from Guzan to prevent Blackburn from doubling their lead early in the second period.

Pedersen’s long throw was cleared back to him and the resulting curling low shot from the edge of the box was turned aside by the United States goalkeeper.

Houllier brought on Emile Heskey, whom he signed for Liverpool from Leicester a decade ago, in place of Carew after 58 minutes.

It proved a masterstroke move with Heskey bringing Villa level with his first touch of the ball inside 60 seconds.

Young sent the former England player clear of the Rovers defence and he clinically beat goalkeeper Mark Bunn with a low drive.

And with 14 minutes left, Young put Villa ahead. Delfouneso supplied the near-post cross and Young was able to head past Bunn.

Within 60 seconds Young doubled Villa’s lead. Heskey won the ball on the right and surged into the Rovers box before delivering an inch-perfect cross which Young converted from close range.

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Warnock, Clark (Davies, 76), Cuellar, Lichaj, Sidwell, Young A, Reo-Coker, Bannan, Carew (Heskey, 58), Agbonlahor (Delfouneso, 31)

BLACKBURN ROVERS: Bunn, Olsson, Givet, Nelsen (Samba 66), Jones, Chimbonda, Emerton, Gamst Pedersen, N'Zonzi, Benjani (Biram Diouf, MB 62), Hoilett (Nikola Kalinic, 78)

Referee: Chris Foy


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