Gerard Houllier heaped the praise on veteran midfielder Robert Pires after Aston Villa knocked Blackburn out of the FA Cup to reach the last 16 of the competition.

Pires was a pain in the side of Rovers all afternoon and scoring was the icing on the cake.

Houllier said: "He (Pires) is fitter first of all. He played against Sheffield United in the last round and I think he is getting better and better.

"He has still got the touch and the eye for the pass and he brings some fluency to the game with his technique.

"I was pleased by the reaction of the bench when he scored.

"That is something very telling. The whole bench went up and were very happy and proud for him.

"He is a popular fellow. They like him. He is a nice man.

"We've got to understand he has not got the legs of when he was 30 but he still can run and have an impact."

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