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Aston Villa 2 Fulham 0 - Match report

last updated Sunday 14th October 2001, 6:10 PM
Goals from Darius Vassell and Ian Taylor claimed Aston Villa's fourth win of the season and helped the midlanders up into fourth place in the Premiership.

The impressive Vassell bagged his sixth goal of the season five minutes after the break when he ended a sparkling five-man move with a clinical close range finish.

And 10 minutes later Taylor, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury, guaranteed the three points when he cooly slotted home Juan Pablo Angel's assist.

Fulham's misery was compounded three minutes before the final whistle when Louis Saha blazed a penalty wide of Peter Schmeichel's right hand post.

Steve Stone was given his first start of the season in place of Mark Delaney who was ruled out with a shoulder injury suffered in the Worthington Cup victory over Reading in midweek. Vassell also returned.

Fulham's £11.5million signing Steve Marlet was given the nod in attack in place of Barry Hayles and was looking to live up to his pre-match pledge that he would score his first goal of the season against Villa.

After 10 minutes he nearly did just that. The former Lyon striker turned Alpay just inside the Villa half and latched onto Steed Malbranque's punt but could only find the sidenetting of Schmeichel's near post when he fired left-footed.

Villa had settled well but were forced into early changes when hamstring victim Hassan Kachloul departed after 16 minutes and was replaced by Taylor.

The visitors seemed keen to exploit any confusion in the hosts ranks. Sylvain Legwinski cleverly sent Malbranque clean through but he failed to work Schmeichel, the Dane choosing to fill his time berating Stone for his earlier miscue.

There was no hiding the fact that Fulham were the more potent threat in the first half and Schmeichel was again forced to deprive Marlet with a fine flying save to his right after a sumptuous cross from Steve Finnan.

The scare seemed to shake Villa into action and George Boateng shaved Edwin van der Sar's right-hand post with a skimming effort after shaking off the tenacious Davis before the lively Vassell blazed wide.

Both keepers were forced to flee their goallines and clear sloppy backpasses early in the second half, but van der Sar was powerless to stop the Cottagers house from caving in on 50 minutes.

Hendrie, industrious as ever, linked up with Juan Pablo Angel and neatly fed Mustapha Hadji on the right. The Moroccan then whipped in a cross that rooted the Fulham defence and allowed Vassel to stroke home without breaking his stride.

Worse was to follow for Fulham as a revitalised Villa made it two 11 minutes later when the ever-improving Angel received the ball and galloped intently towards goal.

With every member of the Fulham defence backing off, the Columbian expertly delayed his pass before setting up Taylor, who fired to the left of an already committed van der Sar.

Substitute Luis Boa Morte ignited Fulham for a brief period in the second half and his run into box ended with him being fouled. Saha, however, ended a miserable afternoon's work by slashing the spot-kick wide.

The miss was the catalyst to carnival activities inside the stadium, the Holte End acclaiming Angel, Gregory and everyone else in claret and blue. Only David Ginola's scowling from the sidelines dampened a satisfying afternoon for the Villans.

Aston Villa:
Schmeichel, Stone, Alpay, Staunton, Wright, Hadji, Hendrie, Boateng, Kachloul (Taylor 15), Angel (Balaban 62), Vassell.

Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Ginola, Barry.

Booked: Hadji.

Goals: Vassell 50, Taylor 61.

Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Knight (Goma 65), Brevett, Collins, Malbranque, Davis (Hayles 66), Legwinski, Saha, Marlet (Boa Morte 66).

Subs Not Used: Clark, Taylor.

Booked: Davis.

Att: 28,579 Ref: P Durkin (Dorset).
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