Agbonlahor bolsters McLeish's battle for hearts and minds at Villa

Aston Villa 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

Alex McLeish could not have wished for a much better start as manager of Aston Villa. Victory in his first home match since his controversial move from Birmingham City was seldom in doubt thanks to an inspired opening half and a limply compliant performance from Blackburn Rovers.

Gabriel Agbonlahor put Villa ahead in style after 12 minutes with his 50th Premier League goal, and Emile Heskey doubled the lead after 25 minutes. Villa lost Agbonlahor to a hamstring injury at half-time and some of their intensity went with him, Blackburn pulling a goal back through Morten Gamst Pedersen. But the visitors, who conceded a Premier League-worst 43 goals on the road last season, continue to look flimsy at the back and allowed a third, scored by Darren Bent.

McLeish laughed when informed that Villa had gone to the top of the table after two matches. "I wish it was May," he said. "It's early days as you know, but we've got four good points. It was a good result with many good moments in the game."

As a former manager of Villa's great rivals, McLeish might have been slightly apprehensive about his initial reception, but he was applauded to the dugout, responding in kind. "The vibes I'd been getting were that it was going to be something to look forward to," he said. "Everybody likes to be loved, but we know what football's like. It will be about results."

Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, whose two results so far have been defeats, is only too well aware of that. "I feel disappointed more than under pressure," he said. "We feel we've been in both games without getting anything from either."

He hopes to field a stronger team before long thanks to the return of Christopher Samba and Gaël Givet from injury and "two or three" new signings. "We need our experienced guys back and that'll give us a better platform," he said. "Bids have been accepted but I don't want to mention names in case they don't pass medicals."

Villa, with Fabian Delph and Stiliyan Petrov controlling midfield, established their superiority early on, and took the lead when Agbonlahor shaped to cross from the left before stepping inside Michel Salgadoand curling a shot beyond Paul Robinson and into the top far corner.

David Hoilett looked like the Blackburn man most likely to produce a reply, but when he created a chance, the lumbering David Goodwillie, on his first start for Blackburn, blasted the ball over the crossbar. Stephen Warnock also had to block a shot from Steven Nzonzi before Villa went 2-0 up. Heskey, playing not as a target man but behind Bent, took Agbonlahor's pass and shot low past Robinson from 20 yards, the ball beating the goalkeeper rather too easily. Heskey squandered an even better opportunity when Bent found him in space, but a poor first touch enabled Salgado to race across and clear.

Rovers started the second half more positively and pulled a goal back when Hoilett crossed for Pedersen, whose perfectly timed late run allowed him to score with an unchallenged header.Villa looked stunned to have their dominance threatened, but re-established their two-goal lead after 67 minutes, albeit through a stroke of fortune. Petrov's decision to shoot from 35 yards seemed optimistic in the extreme until the ball squirted through Grant Hanley's attempted block and fell at the feet of Bent. The England forward took an age to set himself before beating Robinson.

"We had them on the back foot and if we had got to 2-2 it was game on," Kean said. Instead McLeish was able to take another round of applause on his way back to the dressing room. He knows that sterner tests await.

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Given; Young (Clark, 55), Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Petrov, Delph; N'Zogbia, Heskey (Bannan, 66), Agbonlahor (Albrighton, h-t); Bent.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Salgado, Hanley, Nelsen, Olsson; Pedersen (Petrovic, 75), N'Zonzi, Dunn, Hoilett; Roberts (Formica, 75); Goodwillie.

Referee Stuart Attwell.

Man of the match Delph (Villa).

Match rating 7/10.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
Arts and Entertainment
James Dean on the set of 'Rebel without a Cause', 1955
photographyHe brought documentary photojournalism to Tinseltown, and in doing so, changed the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing