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Aston Villa 3 Brighton 2: Villa the Euro contenders may have mixed feelings

25 Jan 2010 00:59:06

Aston Villa 3 Brighton 2: Villa the Euro contenders may have mixed feelings

Amid the verve and invention which complemented perfectly the FA Cup balloons floating around Villa Park, euphoria mixed with uncertainty to produce the feeling that Villa are in danger of being classified as a cup side. A fine, expressive one that has already booked one date at Wembley and is sweeping towards another, but also one which will begin to lose touch with the chase for a prized Champions League place should they fail to beat Arsenal on Wednesday. Studs up: Villa's Fabian Delph and Brighton's Gary Dicker battle it out in midfield Marc Albrighton, just 20, showed off a blistering turn of pace and matched it with calm accuracy to set up Nathan Delfouneso, two years his junior, for the opening goal in a brief 14-minute cameo before injury forced him off. Then, after Tommy Elphick scrambled home an equaliser just before half-time and a rare Ashley Young header restored Villa's lead, another 18-year-old, Fabian Delph, displayed the exciting skills that persuaded O'Neill to part with an initial £6million. No way through: Aston Villa's Fabian Delph (right) challenges Brighton's Elliott Benett Slight and silky in possession, the former Leeds youngster forced a magnificent point-blank save from Brighton keeper Michel Kuipers and might have bundled home another close-range effort. He then converted the hardest chance with aplomb when he sprinted clear, checked inside a covering defender and then swept his shot into the far corner. A smart injury-time goal by Nicky Forster gave Brighton respectability but could not deflect attention away from Villa's new status as cup entertainers.  ASTON VILLA


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