Aston Villa 1 Blackburn Rovers 0

Last updated : 27 August 2005 By Footymad Previewer
David O'Leary's persistence to capture Milan Baros from Liverpool in a £6.5million deal paid off handsomely with an early dividend.

The Czech international injected some much needed pace and tenacity into the Villa attack and quickly impressed with his eye for goal.

Baros was on the mark as early as the 10th minute and even he would admit that with a little more luck he may easily have achieved a first-half hat-trick.

Villa were generally the more impressive and there was definitely a much-needed improvement in their play with Baros as the front runner, after he displaced the out of form Juan Pablo Angel.

Andy Todd and Ryan Nelsen were often at full stretch attempting to contain the livewire Czech and as a result, Blackburn were rarely a threat until the closing stages.

It was therefore something of a surprise that Villa were unable to capitalise on the early goal, as Blackburn failed to get into contention in the first half, when Thomas Sorensen had his quietest 45 minutes of the season.

Baros was always the main attraction for the Villa Park faithful and his persistent attacking play promised a rich haul of goals and sent the fans home happy.

He made a story book start with his first goal in Villa's colours in the 10th minute, demonstrating the kind of finishing prowess that has been lacking in the side for several seasons.

Peter Whittingham and Kevin Phillips combined to set-up Baros and the fleet footed Czech gave a foretaste of what to expect as he cut back inside Todd and placed a low shot beyond Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

Following the goal Villa were on a high and the new man continued to enjoy the limelight when he was prevented from scoring a second by the outstretched boot of Friedel.

Nothing was seen of Blackburn's attack and manager Mark Hughes was obviously concerned by his side's lack of penetration.

Robbie Savage, who had never previously been on a losing side against Villa in 17 games, was often outgunned by the ruthless Gavin McCann.

Tugay, the engine room of Blackburn's performances, was also out of tune in the early stages, but later improved to give the Lancastrians fresh heart as Villa struggled to take full advantage of their early success.

Baros, however, was a constant danger and went close with a glancing header which could have sealed the game.

Early in the second half a header from Liam Ridgewell following a McCann free-kick hit the post, with Blackburn hanging on grimly.

Hughes rang the changes in the second half with Vratislav Gresko, Jemal Johnson and Matt Jansen introduced, but Villa held out to for a vital three points.

However, they made hard work of their task as Steven Davis demonstrated in the closing stages. Baros, exploiting his pace, made a clear run to set up Davis, only for the young Irishman to slam his effort against the post.

Man of the Match: Milan Baros

Villa's big-money new signing won the game with his early strike and gave an all-round debut display that sent the Villa fans home with high hopes for the future. David O'Leary will be hoping to see plenty more performances of this level this season.