Angel hero and villain as Jaaskelainen thwarts Villa

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The Independent Football

With his seventh goal of the season, the revitalised Juan Pablo Angel rescued Villa after goal-shy Bolton had broken their away duck at Villa Park yesterday, but he then missed the chance to fire his side into mid-table comfort by failing from the penalty spot.

The Colombian former misfit struck with a beautiful right-footed shot 12 minutes into the second half to cement his growing bond with the Holte End after Kevin Nolan had given Bolton a shock lead.

But the visiting goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, then matched Angel's brilliance with a superb save from his spot-kick five minutes from time.

Sam Allardyce had stressed the need for his Bolton players to contribute more in front of goal, but still started with a line-up built to defend - although Youri Djorkaeff's failure to recover from a thigh strain somewhat limited his options. As yet, his fellow forward Mario Jardel is not considered fit enough to play for 90 minutes.

With five deployed across the middle, only Kevin Davies had a dedicated attacking role. It was little wonder that the first-half threat to the Villa goal was minimal, although Thomas Sorensen was still active enough to strain a muscle in his side, forcing him to miss the second half.

Villa's best hope always seemed to rest on Angel's shoulders. He looks an entirely different player from the subdued character that Graham Taylor had struggled to keep off the next plane home.

His eye for goal is sharp and his commitment is such that he needed a consoling arm from David O'Leary after missing a hat-trick of chances against Chelsea nine days ago.

The therapy clearly worked. Fourteen minutes into the opening half, his curling free- kick beat Bolton's wall and Jaaskelainen only to hit the junction of post and bar. Moments later, his header from a Lee Hendrie corner flashed narrowly wide.

Stelios Giannakopoulos, seemingly startled by the chance, missed a chance to put Bolton ahead before half-time. But it still came as a surprise that they should go in front seconds after the restart, Davies heading on a long ball by Simon Charlton and Nolan finishing with a shot across the substitute goalkeeper Stefan Postma, whose first contribution was to retrieve the ball from his net.

It was Bolton's first goal away from the Reebok Stadium in four matches this season. But Villa's response was positive and confident enough to see them pegged back to level terms within 11 minutes.

Predictably, it was Angel who provided the goal, although the build-up play was almost as impressive as the finish. Gareth Barry's ball into the box was laid back by Hendrie to the feet of Angel, 20 yards out, and his his inch-perfect shot evaded Jaaskelainen's reach, even though he dived full length in attempting to save it.

With Marcus Allback on for Peter Whittingham to give Villa a third striker, O'Leary's team now went for the kill and should have completed the job.

Darius Vassell hit the post with a header, Angel had a shot blocked on the line and when Ivan Campo, his arms all over his opponent, wrestled down Angel in the box five minutes from time, O'Leary must have been counting the points as safely banked.

For the second week running, however, Angel was to leave the field cursing his finishing. His penalty, though decisively despatched, was not a match for Jaaskelainen, who dived to his left to beat the ball out, enabling the visitors to stretch their unbeaten run in all competitions to six games.

Goals: Kevin Nolan (46) 0-1; Juan Pablo Angel (57) 1-1.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen 5 (Postma 6, h-t); Delaney 6, Mellberg 7, Alpay 6, Samuel 6; Hendrie 7, McCann 6, Barry 7, Whittingham 5 (Allback 5, 55) ; Angel 7, Vassell 6. Substitutes not used: Dublin, De la Cruz, Kinsella.

Bolton (4-3-2-1): Jaaskelainen 7; N'Gotty 6, Thome 7, Charlton 6, Gardner 5; Frandsen 5, Campo 6, Okocha 6; Nolan 7 (Jardel, 79), Giannakopoulos 6 (Little, 89), Davies 7. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Pedersen, Hunt.

Referee: R Styles 6 (Waterlooville).

Bookings: Villa: Hendrie; Bolton: Thome, Okocha, Frandsen, Gardner, Campo.

Man of the match: Barry.

Attendance: 30,229.

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