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Alex McLeish hails Chelsea triumph as best day as Aston Villa manager

The former Birmingham City boss was delighted with his side's 3-1 Stamford Bridge victory, and is keen to build on the performance in next week's clash with Swansea at Villa Park

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has hailed his side’s 3-1 victory away to Chelsea as the best day of his Villa Park career.

The Blues took the lead thanks to a Didier Drogba penalty, but goals from Stephen Ireland, Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent gave the visitors a deserved win at Stamford Bridge.

The coach, who arrived at Villa Park from bitter local rivals Birmingham City over the summer, was delighted with the victory and hoped for more of the same from his squad in 2012.

Asked if it was the best moment in management since taking the reins at the club, McLeish told reporters, “No doubt about that, hope there are many more to come. I’m a guy who perseveres, gets up from getting knocked down and I’d like to maintain some stability at the club in the New Year and show that we can progress.”

One of the outstanding performers on the night was midfielder Ireland who scored the first goal and was a constant harasser of the Chelsea midfield, intercepting Frank Lampard’s loose pass to set-up Bent for the third and final Villa goal.

“Well, he must have caught everybody’s eye, he was excellent," McLeish said of the 25-year-old. “We’re not asking him to be an enforcer in midfield but it was great seeing him pressing and harrying. He played really well against Arsenal and again today. He did it extremely well; his reading of the game was reminiscent of his Man City form. He’s got to take that forward and that’s got to be at that standard every game.”

Ireland was not the only player who McLeish highlighted, praising wingers Charles N’Zogbia and Marc Albrighton especially for their commitment to the cause.

“I thought the boys who can make the difference, did make the difference today,” the coach added. “N’Zogbia was electric [and] Marc Albrighton was [in] more of a working role to counter the threat of [Ashley] Cole. It was a brilliant, disciplined performance. I did feel if they were a couple per cent off top form perhaps there was an opportunity for us. I said that to players.”

McLeish’s men host Swansea City next at Villa Park and the Scotsman insisted the squad’s focus will be on their opponents from tomorrow onwards.

“It’s now the most important game for us. Players can enjoy a laugh tonight, not going out on town I mean, but enjoy what they’ve done today," the former Scotland coach continued. “They’re in training tomorrow, the Swansea game is even more important. Getting three points today emphasised how important getting a home win is. Our supporters were fantastic today.”

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