Bent fires Villa into final
Darren Bent scored the only goal as Aston Villa beat Blackburn to reach the final of the Asia Trophy.
Last Updated: 27/07/11 1:19pm
Darren Bent scored the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Blackburn to reach the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Despite it being essentially a pre-season game, the match still possessed the competitive edge of a regular Premier League encounter.
The first half was goalless, but there were signs that Villa under Alex McLeish will carry more of an attacking threat than previously thought.
And early in the second half the instincts of Bent brought him a goal from close range when he latched onto a Barry Bannan pass.
Shay Given produced a top class save to keep Brett Emerton's effort out, while James Collins was outstanding at the heart of the Villa defence.
In an even first half, Blackburn were first to threaten after nine minutes when Mauro Formica's drive was parried firmly away by Villa's new signing Given.
Nine minutes later, David Dunn linked up with the same player but his 25-yard drive was too high.
Bent then directed a header from Gabriel Agbonlahor's cross over the bar at the other end before Bannan's wicked inswinging cross from the right was eventually scrambled away by a panicked Rovers defence.
Stiliyan Petrov's neat touch saw the Bulgarian race clear in the 25th minute but he fired straight at Paul Robinson, the last good chance of the opening period as the sides went in level.
Villa then broke the deadlock three minutes after the break when Bent escaped the attentions of the Rovers defence and applied a deft touch to Bannan's cross that found the far corner past the diving Robinson.
Rovers came close to an equaliser shortly afterwards when Christopher Samba's storming run ended with a lay-off to Emerton, but Given tipped the Australian's curling effort wide at full stretch.
Villa could have added a second with four minutes to go when Marc Albrighton pounced on a loose ball and drove towards goal but Robinson did brilliantly to turn his fierce effort around the near post.