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Portsmouth 1-2 Aston Villa


A fierce Thomas Hitzlsperger strike gave Aston Villa a rare away win.

The German, a second-half substitute, latched on to Juan Pablo Angel's square pass to unleash an unstoppable volley from the edge of the area.

Villa had taken the lead when Arjan De Zeeuw turned Luke Moore's cross into his own net at the near post.

Portsmouth equalised through a penalty from Ayegbeni Yakubu when Gareth Barry up-ended Steve Stone, but they slowed the pace and soon lost the initiative.

Pompey's inability to push on and take all three points will frustrate head coach Joe Jordan, who has set his side the target of 10 more points for safety.

At the moment they are inching towards the security of 40 points, but Villa, who had won just once on the road coming into the match, were there for the taking.

Villa started slowly before breaking the deadlock, three quickfire passes turning defence into attack and freeing Moore down the left.

When the youngster reached the byeline his stabbed cross was diverted in at the near post by the stretching De Zeeuw for an own goal right in front of the delighted travelling support.


However, they were soon silenced as Portsmouth proceeded to find some passion in their play, snapping into tackles and moving the ball at greater pace.

Patrik Berger, so often the fulcrum of Pompey's attacking ambition, crashed a long-range effort against the post, before Yakubu levelled.

Stone received the ball on the left and darted into the box where he went tumbling after a touch from Barry.

Yakubu sent Thomas Sorensen one way and stroked the ball the other, but having equalised, while maintaining their dominance, Pompey slowed the tempo.

Long-range pot-shots from Berger punctuated play, but their failure to open up clear-cut chances saw Villa grow in confidence.

Angel served notice of their attacking intent with a snap-shot straight at Kostas Chalkias before setting up the winner.

With the defence backing off, Angel squared to Hitzlsperger who did his on-going contract negotiations no harm by calmly teeing the ball up for himself to fire in.

Pompey had lost the initiative and any chance of gaining some points.

Angel headed onto the bar and Olof Mellberg forced Chalkias to tip over before Villa sat back and saw out time.

# Pompey coach Joe Jordan
"We should have won the game on our first-half performance but we didn't push on enough in the second half when it was much more even.

"Either side could have won it and unfortunately for us it was Villa.

"It is a tough period coming up but I think we can go into it knowing we have played well," he added, with an eye on trips to Manchester United and Arsenal.

# Villa manager David O'Leary
"I've been telling the players we need to win a few more away from home and that is a boost for us - I thought we edged it.

"It was a good performance and we need a few more like it.

"A lot of teams have come to Portsmouth and struggled and I feared we might as well after a distinctly 'home' penalty. It was a bit soft to say the least."

Portsmouth: Chalkias, Cisse, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Taylor, Stone, Skopelitis (Fuller 77), Hughes, Berger, Yakubu (LuaLua 66), Kamara.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Primus, Mezague.

Booked: Hughes, Stefanovic.

Goals: Yakubu 24 pen.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel, Solano (Davis 75), Hendrie (Hitzlsperger 53), Djemba-Djemba, Barry, Angel, Luke Moore (Berson 90).
Subs Not Used: Laursen, Postma.

Booked: Ridgewell.

Goals: De Zeeuw 17 og, Hitzlsperger 73.

Att: 20,160

Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).
 
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