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Aston Villa 1-0 Fulham Prem28 The Sun

last updated Tuesday 13th March 2012, 12:02 PM
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Graeme Bryce at SunSport

Aston Villa (0) 1 Fulham (0) 0

IF you believed Aston Villa's mutinous fans, it was shaping up to be Goodnight Vienna for Alex McLeish.

Then a 20-year-old kid from the Austrian capital scrambled an injury-time winner which could prove to be the turning point in both their Villa careers.

Villa Park erupted in fury with chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' when McLeish sent on Andreas Weimann for Charles N'Zogbia after 72 minutes.

It was hardly a vote of confidence for a kid who has yet to start a Premier League game and has less than 10 appearances as substitute under his belt.

But it turned out McLeish did know what he was doing.

Weimann's winner was crafted by the three subs Villa's boss sent on!

Barry Bannan laid the ball off to Gary Gardner whose fierce shot from 22 yards was beaten down by Mark Schwarzer.

Weimann was first to react and, although his initial header was blocked by the keeper, the Austrian bundled the ball home while on his knees!

McLeish refused to gloat, even though he had every right to.

In fact he praised the Villa fans.

He said: "It's not something you want to be hearing but it is part of the modern day game and I'll take it on the chin.

"I thought the fans were great today but they saw a forward coming off and Charles had been in good form.

"But I wanted to get Andreas on to the pitch at some stage.

I'd discussed it with my coaches before the game and said somehow we've got to work this boy in because he is a goal-scorer.

"He was competing with guys like Darren Bent and Gabby Agbonlahor before.

"But now there are a couple of injuries to key players and Andi deserves his moment."

Villa's players celebrated in a manner which suggested a huge weight had been lifted off their backs as they sidestepped a horrible milestone.

The last time the club went seven home games without a win was way back in 1921.

But Weimann made sure they avoided that as he carried on his red-hot form from the reserves, where he has bagged two hat-tricks in his last four outings.

Villa had Fulham firmly on the back foot without troubling Schwarzer too much, although the Londoners were not helped when Danny Murphy copped an elbow from Stephen Ireland after 27 minutes.

The midfielder ended up with a huge shiner and an ugly gash which eventually forced him off at half-time.

Perhaps it sparked Fulham out of their slumber because they finally managed their first shot four minutes later.

Andy Johnson cut inside Alan Hutton and drilled in a low shot, but keeper Shay Given was able to smother.

The second half started on a controversial note when the Holte End claimed Schwarzer stepped over his own line under pressure from Agbonlahor.

But referee Jon Moss disagreed.

Clint Dempsey then missed the chance of the game when he looked certain to put away Damien Duff's 52nd-minute cross.

Fulham's American star fluffed his shot from four yards and failed to make contact with the goal at his mercy.

Marc Albrighton then smacked Schwarzer's bar with a 20-yarder before Fulham also hit the woodwork as Duff almost broke through.

Stiliyan Petrov and Chris Herd were booked for a couple of hefty tackles as Villa's frustration grew and the fans turned on McLeish for taking off N'Zogbia.

John Arne Riise went close to making it even worse for the Holte Enders when he whistled a stunning 20-yarder a fraction wide.

Then, to McLeish's joy, his kids came of age two minutes into added time.

Schwarzer should have done better, but Fulham boss Martin Jol insisted: "I don't blame the keeper for the goal because there are always two or three mistakes made in any goal.

"But it was a real kick in the teeth.

It feels harsh to lose in the final minute

ASTON VILLA: Given 6, Hutton 6, Cuellar 6, Collins 6, Warnock 6, Albrighton 5, Herd 7 (Bannan 5), Petrov 5 (Gardner 6), N'Zogbia 5 (Weimann 8), Ireland 5, Agbonlahor 6.
Subs not used: Guzan, Heskey, Lichaj, Baker.

Booked: Petrov, Herd.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 5, Kelly 6, Senderos 5, Hangeland 6, J A Riise 6, Duff 6, Dembele 5, Murphy 6 (Diarra 6), Dempsey 5, Pogrebnyak 5, Johnson 5 (Ruiz 5).
Subs not used: Stockdale, Baird, Orlando Sa, Etuhu, Davies.

REF: J Moss 6

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