Blake inspires Burnley to brush woeful Villa aside

Burnley 3 - Aston Villa 1
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The Independent Online

Jean Louis Valois capped a stunning Burnley performance with the 85th minute goal that confirmed the Championship side's superiority over a thoroughly embarrassed Aston Villa.

Jean Louis Valois capped a stunning Burnley performance with the 85th minute goal that confirmed the Championship side's superiority over a thoroughly embarrassed Aston Villa.

Valois's mazy run took him past two Villa defenders before he struck a delightful finish that compounded the humiliation of the Premiership outfit.

Any doubts about the importance attached to this game by David O'Leary were dispelled by his team-sheet that revealed just two changes from the side that beat Fulham 2-0, including the enforced absence of Darius Vassell, who has been sidelined for three months with a broken ankle.

By contrast, Burnley manager, Steve Cotterill, was forced to lift his side following last Friday's home defeat against Derby without three key players.

Graham Branch headed Cotterill's side ahead in the ninth minute and for the rest of the half, Burnley looked much the more threatening side.

Predictably the opening came from a piece of trickery by Robbie Blake, a constant thorn in Villa's side, who beat right back Mark Delaney at the by-line before posting a tempting cross towards Branch at the far post. Branch out-manouevred Liam Ridgewell and, with keeper Thomas Sorensen stranded, headed firmly downwards from close range to claim the breakthrough.

Villa's early efforts were confined to midfield bluster and a hopeful long range effort from in-form midfielder Lee Hendrie while Burnley maintained their momentum and displayed significantly more purpose as they came forward.

Villa were beginning to press as the half ended, with Carlton Cole's dangerous deep cross from the left headed away by Mohammed Camara.

Then Juan Pablo Angel, who had not seen much of the ball, tried to get a shot away from the edge of the box but centre-back John McGreal bravely blocked his effort.

The half time break did little to rejuvenate Villa and the sight of Jlloyd Samuel almost deflecting Blake's 50th minute inswinging free kick past Sorensen offered a further taste of the Midlands side's self destructive tendencies that were to be laid bare five minutes later when Samuel upended Richard Duffy to concede a penalty. Samuel was forced to rely on Sorensen to save his blushes with a superb save to deny Blake's spot-kick.

But any hopes this could lift the visitors were dispelled when Grant worked a corner with Blake before whipping in a left wing cross towards the head of Camara who diverted home.

Villa looked rocked, although substitute Thomas Hitzlsperger pushed forward and although Angel scored his fourth of the season nine minutes from time, Valois added the decisive goal moments later.

Burnley (4-5-1): Coyne; Roche, Duff, McGreal, Camara; Duffy, Grant, Hyde, Branch, Valois; Blake. Substitutes: Jensen (gk), Sanokho, O'Neill, Pilkington, Scott.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; Delaney, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel (Hitzlsperger, 60); Solano (Moore, 72), Hendrie, McCann, Whittingham; Angel, Cole. Substitutes: Postma (gk), De La Cruz, Moore, Davis.

Referee: C Foy (Merseysidee)

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