Convincing first home victory for McLeish

Aston Villa 3 Blackburn 1

Alex McLeish was able to savour the applause of the Aston Villa faithful at the end of a convincing first home victory as manager.

Goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and Darren Bent also gave McLeish his first Barclays Premier League win over a fellow Scot in charge at his 12th attempt.

For opposite number in Blackburn's Steve Kean, it has been an eight days to the start of the season to forget, with back-to-back losses sandwiching a court appearance in which he was banned from driving for 18 months for drink driving.

If McLeish had harboured any quiet concern deep inside as to the kind of reception he might receive, that was dispelled as soon as he made his way out of the tunnel and set foot on the touchline.

The vitriol and animosity that had greeted McLeish's appointment two months ago was a thing of the past as time had clearly proven a great healer to the Villa fans.

Forgetting his prior allegiance to Birmingham, a club he guided to Carling Cup success and relegation from the Barclays Premier League last season, the greeting afforded to McLeish was positive.

The applause was certainly long and warm as he made his way to his dugout shortly before kick off, and again when his name was aired over the public address system shortly after.

What followed was as comfortable a performance as he could have wished for as Villa strolled into a 2-0 lead by the interval.

It was nothing more than they deserved as Blackburn were a team bizarrely lacking drive and purpose given it is so early into the season.

The opener, however, was special, coming after a quiet 11 minutes in which neither side had gained a foothold.

The departure of Ashley Young to Manchester United has been a hole McLeish has so far been unable to fill.

However, he may not need to if Agbonlahor continues to display the quality he produced throughout the opening 45 minutes, and in particular for the first goal.

Attacking from Young's old left-wing position, Agbonlahor cut his way into the area before delivering a stunning curled strike from 15 yards beyond Paul Robinson's flailing grasp into the top left-hand corner.

Midway through the half Agbonlahor, who only scored five goals last season, almost doubled his and Villa's tally.

In attempting an audacious effort from 30 yards, Robinson needed to be at his best to claw the ball out of the air that was again destined for the top left of his net.

The former England goalkeeper, though, was beaten again soon after, with Agbonlahor the supplier in teeing up Heskey in the 25th minute.

From inside the D, Heskey's edge-of-the-area shot made its way beyond Robinson, ending a 13-game drought for the striker stretching back to January 2.

Heskey should have made it 3-0 in the 34th minute, but despite a clear sight of goal after receiving a pass into his feet from Darren Bent, his first touch was hideous, allowing returning captain Ryan Nelsen to clear.

In reply, Rovers barely figured but for one 12-yard drive from new striker David Goodwillie, signed from Dundee United in the summer, that was fired over the angle of the woodwork.

After a virtual no-show in the first half, the goal that gave them a lifeline in the 52nd minute was a bolt from the blue, but classy nonetheless.

Neat footwork from Junior Hoilett down the left wing saw him evade two tackles, carving out a position from which he delivered a piercing cross.

Stealing in between centre backs Richard Dunne and James Collins, Morten Gamst Pedersen planted a powerful header past home debut goalkeeper Shay Given from six yards.

For a period that followed Villa appeared to lose their way, in particular as they had lost Agbonlahor at the break to a knock sustained before the interval.

McLeish was also forced to make two further changes due to injuries to Luke Young and Heskey, but any concerns as to a Rovers fightback were eased midway through the half when the two-goal cushion was restored.

After young defender Grant Hanley had blocked a speculative shot from captain Stiliyan Petrov, Bent was quick to seize on the loose ball before delivering a clinical finish beyond Robinson to seal the three points.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born