Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Aston Villa 3 Blackburn 1

New manager Alex McLeish arrived to warm applause and left to a standing ovation as his Aston Villa side marched to a convincing victory over struggling Blackburn Rovers in their first home appearance of the season.

McLeish’s summer move across the city from arch-rivals Birmingham was never less than controversial but any thoughts of a Villa Park rebellion were dismissed as he was greeted warmly on his walk to the dugout. The cheers were ringing around the stadium as the fans saluted a job well done at the final whistle.

Gabby Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey had Villa in command by half-time and though Morten Gamst Pedersen induced a momentary flutter by pulling a goal back, a thumping finish from Darren Bent swiftly restored Villa’s poise.

Agbonlahor’s sweetly-struck opener came in the 12th minute, capitalising on a bright start by the home side. The winger received the ball wide on the left, ran at the penalty area and sidestepped Michel Salgado before curling an exquisite finish beyond Paul Robinson’s reach.

The Blackburn goalkeeper stretched to keep out another well-delivered effort from Agbonlahor eight minutes later but was beaten again in the 25th minute.

This time Agbonlahor was the provider, laying Fabian Delph’s through ball aside for Heskey to direct home a low shot from just inside the penalty area.

It was really all too comfortable for Villa, who could have put the game beyond Blackburn’s reach by the interval.

Heskey’s touch let him down after a slick move built down the right flank from Luke Young and Bent, then Agbonlahor ran half the length of the pitch before being closed off by an overstretched Blackburn rearguard.

Blackburn, still missing Christophe Samba in the heart of defence, struggled to find a way though, though Steven N’znoni was unfortunate when a barrelling 22nd-minute run ended with his fierce shot being deflected from harm’s way by Stephen Warnock.

Yet any thoughts of a second-half stroll for the home side were swiftly banished. Agbonlahor, Blackburn’s tormentor in chief, did not reappear after the interval having sustained a first-half knock, then the visitors grabbed an unlikely lifeline in the 52nd minute.

David Hoilett curled the ball in from the left and Pedersen rose between two Villa defenders to head home powerfully from five yards.

Were the visitors about to wreck McLeish’s welcome party? The answer came 15 minutes later when Villa restored their two-goal advantage.

Stilyan Petrov’s long-range blast was blocked by Grant Hanley but the Blackburn defender was unable to prevent the ball spilling to Bent, with the Villa striker taking a step to put the ball on to his left foot before hammering it past Robinson.

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