Aston Villa 4 Newcastle United 2

Last updated : 28 August 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Juan Pablo Angel helped to turn up the pressure on Newcastle United boss Sir Bobby Robson as Aston Villa pulled off a stunning victory in a six-goal thriller at Villa Park.

Sir Bobby's position is at the centre of intense speculation after a winless start to the campaign and Angel's 82nd minute strike to seal Villa's win only added to his problems.

Robson gambled on dropping the United legend Alan Shearer to the bench for only the second time in five years to try and spark a change in fortunes for his team and the move almost paid dividends.

Patrick Kluivert, who was called up in place of Shearer, scored his first goal for the club since his arrival from Barcelona.

Kluivert's 27th minute equaliser cancelled out Villa's fourth minute opener from skipper Olof Mellberg.

Central defender Andrew O'Brien then looked to have put United on course for a badly needed success.

But Carlton Cole dragged David O'Leary's side level in the 53rd minute before Gareth Barry fired Villa in front after 71 minutes.

Substitute Angel, who is on the comeback trail after knee surgery, sealed the success eight minutes from time as Villa secured only their second home win against United in 12 attempts.

Robson did send on Shearer in the 76th minute but by then the damage had been done - leaving United with just two points from their opening four games.

In contrast, Villa can boast a 100 per cent home record and the success was just the response that O'Leary wanted after their 3-0 defeat at Charlton in midweek.

Newcastle were caught cold after just four minutes as Mellberg produced a carbon copy of the goal he scored in last Sunday's local derby at West Bromwich Albion.

Ironically, that goal was also a fourth minute header. The only difference was that this time Mellberg converted a corner from Nolberto Solano.

At The Hawthorns he had headed home a free-kick from Thomas Hitzlsperger.

The shock of conceding so soon rocked Newcastle and they were fortunate not to fall further behind two minutes later when Cole headed just wide.

But Newcastle proved to be made of stern stuff as they worked their way into the game and the only real surprise was that it took them until the 27th minute to equalise.

Laurent Robert caused chaos in the Villa area after 11 minutes with a centre that fell to Jermaine Jenas whose shot was then hacked to safety by Mellberg.

Jenas then headed a Robert centre inches over the bar eight minutes later before Nicky Butt forced goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen into a smart save after 19 minutes.

Despite all their pressure, United were still fortunate not to fall further behind when goalkeeper Shay Given did well to turn away a shot from Darius Vassell with his feet in the 25th minute.

It proved to be a vital save by the Republic of Ireland international as United were able to draw level two minutes later when Kluivert finished off a classy move.

The Dutchman was picked out by a neat pass from Butt. Kluivert was closely marked by central defender Mark Delaney, but he skilfully turned the Welsh international before beating Sorensen with a low drive from 12 yards.

That goal really sparked Kluivert into life and it needed a stunning save from Sorensen to stop him scoring his second.

Danish international Sorensen had to be at full stretch in the 35th minute to tip an 18-yard drive from Kluivert over the bar.

But that save only served to frustrate United for 60 seconds.

When Villa failed to fully clear a corner from Robert, Craig Bellamy fired in a second centre that O'Brien deftly headed home from six yards.

Having seen their advantage taken away, Villa made a determined bid to try and draw level before half-time and almost succeeded when Solano crashed a 39th minute close-range header against the bar.

While they managed to escape on that occasion, their luck failed to hold and they were pegged back nine minutes into the second half.

United were undone after a powerful run and shot by Barry. Given was unable to hold his low drive and the rebound fell kindly for Cole who forced the ball over the line with his chest from a yard.

Villa had noticeably stepped up a gear at the start of the second half and they were able to pen United back for long spells.

While Sorensen did have to beat away a 56th minute free-kick from Robert, Villa always looked the more threatening side in attack.

That proved to be the case when Solano whipped in a pin-point cross 19 minutes from time.

It whistled across the face of the United goal and flew straight to Barry who headed home at the far post.

The introduction of talisman Shearer came to late to save United and Angel ended their comeback hopes when his shot from 20 yards bounced off O'Brien and looped over the stranded Given to sum up the Magpies' dismal day.