Ten-man Villa give Houllier respite from the sack race

Sheffield United 1 Aston Villa 3

Unlike his good friend Roy Hodgson, Gérard Houllier was allowed to take his team into the third round of the FA Cup despite the fact that Aston Villa occupied a rather lowlier League position than Liverpool and possessed what seems to be a considerably more disunited dressing-room.

Aston Villa kept calm and carried on into the fourth round, although it was not quite as straightforward as the scoreline suggested – especially at the half-time interval. They spent the last quarter of an hour protecting a one-goal lead after Ashley Young had been dismissed for a second bookable offence, and required a spectacularly well-struck goal from Stiliyan Petrov to stifle any thoughts of a replay.

The trouble with upsets is that they never happen when expected. When Kyle Walker, brought in on loan from Tottenham, belied the fact he is a specialist full-back by skating past three defenders to score his first senior goal as early as the ninth minute, one sardonic Yorkshireman sitting in front of the press box turned round to say: "That's ruined your story, hasn't it?"

Houllier, backed by his American owners in a way Hodgson never was by his, did not travel north in the belief that defeat would have been the end. Certainly, there was no evidence of the "electric tensions" that Robert Pires said existed within the dressing room in an interview given toa Monaco radio station – not the most natural outlet for Aston Villa news – for whichhe has apologised.

"I don't think that whatever happened today there would have been a major change," Houllier said. "I feel for Roy. He was manager of the year last season and he is a fantastic person but this world has become brutal. You lose two games and you are in the firing line."

It is 10 years since Houllier led Liverpool to the FA Cup and seven since he last came to Sheffield United – then for a fiercely contested 2-1 defeat in a League Cup semi-final that was overturned in the second leg at Anfield. Frankly, Bramall Lane did not look in the mood for a repetition. Barely 12,000 of the crowd came from the Steel City to see a side who had lost five and drawn one of their previous seven games, conceding 17 times along the way.

Micky Adams may have dreamed about taking the club he represented at junior level to an FA Cup final, but his first major occasion as manager of Sheffield United was soon doused in reality, not least when Marc Albrighton finished Young's low cross with the hunger of a natural-born goalscorer.

Once Jamie Ward had driven his penalty into the dead centre of Brad Friedel's goal, Adams's side began to take risks. There was a fabulous overhead kick from Johnny Ertl but once a shot from Leon Britton – the midfielder, not Margaret Thatcher's former home secretary – was blazed over the bar, the game, and the tie, was up.

Attendance: 21,464

Referee: Danny McDermid

Man of the match: Lallana

Match rating: 6/10

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice