Young free kick earns Villa draw
Santa Cruz goal had given the visitors the lead
By Laura Slatcher. Last Updated: 26/01/08 8:03pm
Santa Cruz: Netted rebound
Aston Villa came from a goal down to draw with Blackburn Rovers in an entertaining game at Villa Park on Saturday.
The only Premier League game of the weekend saw Blackburn take the lead in the 66th minute when Roque Santa Cruz followed up a saved David Dunn shot.
A textbook free-kick from Ashley Young ten minutes later secured Villa a point. His free kick from 20-yards was well placed into the top right corner of Brad Friedel's goal.
Blackburn were awarded a penalty after 24 minutes when Nigel Reo-Coker was adjudged to have brought down Matt Derbyshire in a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge.
Derbyshire stepped up to take the spot-kick but it was the right height for Scott Carson, who saved down to his right.
Blackburn began strongly as Villa central defender Martin Laursen produced a superbly timed tackle to halt the run of Rovers midfielder Dunn after he had burst into the box.
Carson came racing out of his area to fly-hack clear from Derbyshire after he had chased onto a long hopeful ball from deep in the Blackburn half.
Rovers 'keeper Friedel only got half a punch on an inswinging Young free-kick but sufficient to take it away from the head of six goal Laursen.
Rovers winger David Bentley showed a rare moment of quality with a dangerous dipping cross fom the right flank which Morten Gamst Pedersen at full stretch just failed to make contact with.
But then Carson kept Villa on level terms by saving a penalty from Derbyshire after 24 minutes.
Reo-Coker's blushes at conceding a spot-kick were spared when up stepped Derbyshire, only to see his shot saved by Carson away to his right.
Young's free-kicks were causing Blackburn the most problems and it needed Steven Reid to make a vital clearance after one in-swinger had skidded across the six yard box.
Martin O'Neill made his first substitution in bringing on striker Marlon Harewood for the ineffective Stiliyan Petrov after 60 minutes with Gabriel Agbonlahor moving into a wide role.
And Harewood was responsible for Villa's first decent effort on target after 63 minutes with Friedel getting his body behind a low drive.
But four minutes later Santa Cruz silenced the home fans by scoring his 11th league goal of the campaign. Dunn was the creator with a powerful run in which he shook off the challenge of Curtis Davies before having a left-footed shot parried by Carson.
Santa Cruz was the first to react and the Paraguay international forced the ball home from close range. Villa needed a positive response and within six minutes they level through Young's fourth goal of the campaign.
Agbonlahor was brought down by Reid just outside the Blackburn box and Young curled the free-kick past the despairing dive of Friedel.
Harewood came close to winning the game for Villa when his header hit the crossbar from a Young free-kick.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||3|
|3||Shots off Target||5|