Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Emile Heskey nets decisive derby goal to ease pressure on Houllier

Villa's four-game losing streak ends against local rivals
Emile Heskey scored what turned out to be a decisive goal for Aston Villa as they overcame West Bromwich Albion in a tense affair at Villa Park.

Heskey's goal in the 80th minute gave Villa a 2-0 lead after Stewart Downing had opened the scoring in the first half, but Paul Scharner's header in the 89th minute led to some nervy moments in the final stages for Villa fans.

West Brom started the better of the two, and almost took a deserved lead when Somen Tchoyi curled a shot against the bar in similar fashion to his goal last week against Newcastle.

It was as close as either team had come in the opening 20 minutes, with West Brom on top for most of it, and Villa broke to score against the run of play only minutes later.

Marc Albrighton burst down the right wing, and after getting to the byline he fizzed the ball across the face of goal for Stewart Downing to tap home after steaming in from the opposite side.

The hosts looked too inexperienced in midfield, and West Brom probed throughout the first half, with Chris Brunt the major threat to Villa.

Much of Villa's threat prior to the break came from their debutant right-back Eric Lichaj, who may have a long throw to rival Stoke City's Rory Delap.

And Villa looked much more confident after the break, nearly adding a second as Downing and Albrighton combined again, this time with Albrighton's diving header flying just wide of the post.

James Morrison fired wide for West Brom in a match of few real chances for either side, but as the Baggies pushed for a winner, Ashley Young was becoming increasingly influential.

Young exposed West Brom as he stole the ball from the defence and slid an enticing ball across the face of goal, but no-one was there to convert as Heskey arrived two yards too late.

And it was Young who won the corner that led to Heskey's fifth goal of the season.

The corner went loose to Albrighton, who was at the heart of everything for Villa, and he whipped in a vicious cross that James Collins could not meet despite stretching, only for Heskey to stoop and head in from five yards.

But Scharner put West Brom right back into it in the 89th minute, rising high from Brunt's corner to thump his header into the net via a deflection on the line.

Brunt and Jerome Thomas both had chances to equalise in injury time, but both were wasted, as Brunt's shot was blocked and Thomas' was put over the bar.

It was a nervy affair for Villa, and the fans will be wary that they did not control for extended periods, but after a four game losing streak, they won't mind too much with three points on the table.

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