Aston Villa 1 Newcastle United 2

Last updated : 11 February 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Shay Given earned the plaudits for a resurgent Newcastle United as they chalked up a second successive win since the departure of Graeme Souness.

There was undoubtedly an improvement in Newcastle's performance as they took another step away from the relegation battle, but they were assisted by some chaotic defensive work by Aston Villa.

The Magpies had to hang on grimly in the second period after they were reduced to ten men when Celestine Babayaro was sent off for bringing down Milan Baros.

It was United's fourth away win of the season and took them above Villa in the table.

They capitalised on Villa's poor defensive work which obviously upset manager David O'Leary, while caretaker manager Glenn Roeder, charged with restoring United's lost pride, had every reason to be delighted with the win.

Goals from Shola Ameobi and Charles N'Zogbia sealed this hard-fought success despite the in-form Luke Moore pulling one back for Villa.

The watching Sven-Goran Eriksson must have been impressed with the performance of Gareth Barry on his 300th appearance for Villa, while Scott Parker made a hefty contribution to United's success.

United certainly gave their travelling support a real rollercoaster ride in the first half when they twice took the lead.

Newcastle may have off-field problems but they always provide good entertainment, as highlighted in this encounter.

Villa, who had a relatively inexperienced midfield with 20-year-old Craig Gardner making his first-team debut, were on the back-foot after only 80 seconds play.

O'Leary's side, who are often inclined to be a little lax in their early play, found themselves a goal behind when Nolberto Solano and Alan Shearer combined to put Ameobi in possession.

The Nigerian casually shot goalwards to see the ball trickle in to the consternation of the aggrieved O'Leary.

Another timid shot by Ameobi almost produced a second goal when the ball was deflected just wide by Mark Delaney with goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen going the wrong way.

O'Leary was appeased in the 16th minute when the on-fire Moore grabbed his fourth goal in two games, heading home a Gardner free-kick at the near post.

In what turned out to be a nightmare first half for Villa, they again allowed Newcastle to regain the lead in the 29th minute.

Solano, who silenced the early boos of the Villa fans, was again involved when his angled shot was blocked by Sorensen and N'Zogbia nipped in to score an opportunist goal.

Villa maintained their attacking policy and only indifferent finishing by Lee Hendrie right on half-time enabled United to maintain their advantage.

There was a compelling need for Villa to get to grips with the game but they wasted a golden opportunity to get back on level terms.

Baros and Juan Pablo Angel took over from Kevin Phillips and Hendrie at the break and the Czech striker was quickly involved in the action.

He was heading for goal when he was hacked down from behind by Babayaro, who was immediately sent off by referee Mike Riley.

Baros, however, took the resulting spot-kick and his meek effort was saved by Given with his feet as he dived the wrong way.

Facing 10 men Villa launched a series of attacks, with United's notoriously leaky defence hanging on grimly.

When Kieron Dyer eventually made his appearance he was sent into a rearguard battle.

But it was Given who kept United ahead with a brilliant save under the bar from a dangerous dipping shot by Angel, which summed up the game for Villa.