Villa throw it all away


Birmingham City - 3 Aston Villa - 0 One of the most bizarre own-goals ever seen in the English Premiership helped Birmingham City to a 3-0 win over city rivals Aston Villa last night.

In the first meeting between the two clubs for 15 seasons, Birmingham had taken the lead after 31 minutes through Republic of Ireland striker Clinton Morrison but were hanging on in the face of a strong second-half Villa comeback. There was no danger when Villa defender Steve Staunton sent a throw-in back to his goalkeeper Peter Enckelman 13 minutes from time but the Finnish international somehow allowed the ball to trickle under his boot and into the net.

The Villa players complained he had missed it completely - thereby ruling out a goal - but the referee decided there had been contact. Staunton earned himself a booking for his trouble.

Striker Geoff Horsfield then cashed in on another defensive error to fire home City's third seven minutes from time.

It was a full-blooded and occasionally bruising encounter as the powerful presence of Aliou Cisse and Savage in centre midfield established a superiority for Birmingham that Villa always struggled with.

Birmingham went ahead when another Irishman, Jeff Kenna, lofted a cross from deep, the Villa defence froze fatally and the ball bounced off Savage for Morrison to hook in.

The misery was sealed for the visitors late on when Alpay dismally failed to control Robbie Savage's through ball and substitute Horsfield gleefully seized on the opportunity.

BIRMINGHAM: Vaesen, Kenna, Purse, Cunningham, Grainger, Devlin (Powell 79), Savage (Hughes 87), Cisse, Damien Johnson, John, Morrison (Horsfield 69). Subs Not Used: Bennett, Lazaridis. Booked: Grainger, Purse, Cisse. Goals: Morrison 31, Enckelman 77 og, Horsfield 83.

ASTON VILLA: Enckelman, Mellberg, Alpay, Staunton, De la Cruz, Kinsella, Johnsen, Barry, Samuel, Allback (Dublin 45), Angel (Vassell 45). Subs Not Used: Postma, Hendrie, Moore. Booked: Alpay, Barry.

Referee: D Elleray.