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Zayatte's Own Goal Pulls Villa Back among Top 4
    2009-01-01 20:42:53     Shanghai Daily/Agencies

Aston Villa moved back into the top four of the English Premier League with a 1-0 win at Hull clinched by Kamil Zayatte's late own goal and favorable officiating on Tuesday.

The match ended in confusion after referee Steve Bennett changed his mind after appearing to award Hull a penalty deep into injury time when Villa winger Ashley Young looked to have handled Ian Ashbee's header on the line.

"The referee got it wrong because he gave it originally," Hull manager Phil Brown said. "The linesman took up a position that he was giving the penalty but for some reason they've changed their mind between them.

"The referee is 15 yards away but he consults a linesman who was 40 yards away from the incident."

But TV replays, which showed that the crossbar had denied Hull an equalizer, vindicated Bennett's apparent change of heart.

"I didn't touch it with my hand, you can clearly see it was going over," Young said. "I was just seeing it out and we got our reward at the end of the day.

"It's clear, I think, that it's hit the bar and gone over. The referee has given the penalty then changed his mind and he deserves credit for that."

Hull deserved a point for its tenacity against a Villa side creating little and struggling to find the target, but the third loss in a row left Brown's side with a sense of injustice.

And Villa got its goal only in the 88th minute on the counterattack when Zayatte inadvertently volleyed Young's cross beyond his own goalkeeper while under pressure from Gabriel Agbonlahor.

"We didn't play well tonight," Villa manager Martin O'Neill said. "These Premier League games are hard. We came with plenty of confidence but it didn't happen in the first half.

"It was a great win for us tonight. We just keep putting pressure on the sides around us."

Aston Villa is fourth with 38 points, below defending champion Manchester United, which has two games in hand, on goal difference. Liverpool has 45 points and tops the standings from Chelsea by three points.

While it was the same Villa lineup that recovered a 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Friday, Hull manager Phil Brown ditched five players from the side that was embarrassed 1-5 at Manchester City.

Hull had a goal disallowed after five minutes when Nick Barmby challenged Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel in the air, making him spill the ball, enabling him to bundle it into an empty net.

"With a bit of fortune we could have got our noses in front," Brown said. "I would like to see the Nick Barmby incident again. We didn't seem to get those decisions tonight."

Meanwhile, Norway and Aston Villa striker John Carew's back injury will take longer to heal than previously thought, his agent told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Tuesday.

Carew, who last played on November 22, told Norwegian media last month that he would be sidelined for four to five weeks.

"It is hard to say when John will be back. Maybe in February, maybe in March or later," Per Flod told NRK. "This is an injury that will take time. It is important that John is completely healed."



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