Villa move up as Hull suffer

LONDON: Aston Villa climbed into sixth place in the English Premier League and in sight of a spot amongst Europe’s elite next season as they edged Hull nearer relegation with a 2-0 away win on Wednesday.Gabriel Agbonlahor’s first-half goal and James Milner’s penalty 14 minutes from time saw Villa to a win that left the Midlands club just three points behind Tottenham Hotspur, who currently occupy fourth place and the last spot on offer to English clubs for next season’s Champions League, with three games to play.

Victory saw Villa leapfrog Liverpool and continued their revival after losing 7-1 to Premier League leaders Chelsea, who also knocked them out of the FA Cup, last month

“We’re in the mix,” Villa manager Martin O’Neill told Sky Sports. “We’re going for everything and guaranteed nothing. We’re not even guaranteed to finish eighth in the league at this minute.

“We’ve gone above Liverpool with three games to go and that’s pretty exceptional. But where I’ve been pleased with the team is they’ve responded fantastically to the defeat at Stamford Bridge.

“We’ve come back and taken 10 out of the last 12 points. I think the team has shown a great deal of character all season and I think that was epitomised tonight.”

Defeat left cash-strapped Hull three points from safety and on course for a return to the second-tier Championship.

And the loss was made worse by the sight of striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink being carried off on a stretcher after a clash of heads with Villa’s David Dunne.

Hull manager Iain Dowie, whose side are at home to Sunderland tomorrow, was left bemoaning the only “statistic that matters” after his team failed to take their chances.

“The stats say we’re better. We had more shots, crosses, more on target and 66 per cent more corners,” Dowie said.

“They all add up but the one that doesn’t is goals and that’s been the problem all year. Villa got the stat that matters.”

He added: “There were some excellent passing moves and I can’t fault the commitment or effort of the players against an excellent side.

“This result makes it much more difficult but we’ve got nine more points to play for. We’ve got to make sure come Sunderland we put three points on the board – no question about that.” — AFP

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