Hero Angel turns villain as Fulham strike at the death

Fulham 1 - Aston Villa 1
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The Independent Online

It is not without reason that the Aston Villa fanzine is called Heroes and Villains. Just ask Juan Pablo Angel. The striker scored his first goal for three months, looked to have won the game, then missed two penalties - only for Fulham to draw level at the death.

It is not without reason that the Aston Villa fanzine is called Heroes and Villains. Following this match Juan Pablo Angel will probably have an edition devoted to him. After scoring his first goal in three months the Colombian striker was presented with the opportunity to take the match ball as well as the points. Instead he saw two penalties saved ­ one low, one high, both the same way ­ by Fulham's Edwin van der Sar.

It was the goalkeeper's name that rang out at the end with Angel leaving head bowed after Lee Clark drove in an injury-time equaliser. "He won't take another penalty this season," said the Villa assistant manager, Roy Aitken, who revealed that Angel had been asked not to take the second but had seized the ball. Aitken appeared because the manager David O'Leary was "too upset, annoyed, frustrated" at discarding what would have been only a second away win. Villa will also have to reflect on a horrendous miss by Lee Hendrie who side-footed over from inside the six-yard area when unattended.

Fulham had their own penalty trauma with Andrew Cole missing when presented with an opportunity to draw the sides level soon after Angel's header had opened the scoring. Instead he relied on Clark, out injured for a year, to extend Fulham's unbeaten run to eight matches ­ the best under the manager Chris Coleman. Added to that Fulham have scored result-changing goals in the closing minutes of their last three Premiership games.

"We got out of jail," Coleman said. "I know it wasn't a great performance but we will take that." For Coleman there was the extra satisfaction of knowing that his key men ­ Van der Sar and Clark ­ were just a few months ago, the two players it seemed he would not be able to call on. But Van der Sar signed a new contract, Clark recovered. "We didn't know what was going to happen with Edwin," Coleman said. His worth was proven and, in a slow transfer window, that may prove their best piece of business.

O'Leary has also been frustrated although he still started his only signing, Eric Djemba-Djemba, on the bench. He witnessed a tepid first half in which Fulham threatened sporadically, Villa not at all. The Villa goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen, palmed away Luis Boa Morte's shot and then distracted Tomasz Radzinski enough for him to blaze over hurriedly. After the break there was Hendrie's miss, before Angel met Gareth Barry's corner.

At the other end, Boa Morte fell under Olof Mellberg's challenge. It was harsh but Cole dragged his penalty wide. Villa then got their first spot-kick when Moritz Volz dragged back Luke Moore and they collected a second after the same player was brought down by Zat Knight. Angel, of course, missed both. And then, in one last charge, Boa Morte's shot rebounded to Clark. And, with it, the hero status switched.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Van der Sar; Volz, Rehman, Knight, Rosenior; Pembridge, Bouba Diop; Radzinski (John, 68), Clark, Boa Morte; Cole (McBride, 73). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Legwinski, Goma.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; De La Cruz, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Barry; Solano (Djemba-Djemba, 79), Hendrie (Davis, 64), Berson, Hitzlsperger; Cole (Moore, h-t), Angel. Substitutes not used: Postma (gk), Laursen.

Referee: C Foy (Lancashire).

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