ASTON VILLA 1
- Milner (pen) 83
BIRMINGHAM CITY 0
**Aston Villa overcame Birmingham City at Villa Park with a 1-0 victory over their local rivals. James Milner converted a penalty in the dying stages to secure both the three points and the local bragging rights.
Birmingham had the first chance of the game, breaking through on goal in the ninth minute. Sebastian Larsson exchanged passes in the centre with Lee Bowyer after Cameron Jermone had laid the ball off to the Englishman and Larsson burst through and rounded Brad Friedel, but the angle was too acute and the Swedish midfielder sliced his shot, skewing well wide of the target.
Villa then worked a decent opportunity in the 17th minute. Attacking down the left, they played the ball into John Carew who shifted it inside to Milner who had taken up a position on the edge of the penalty area. The English international struck his shot with venom but it was blocked excellently by Roger Johnson.
The major talking point of the game came when Villa were awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute. Agbonlahor burst into the left-hand side of the area and Johnson dived in with a last-ditch tackle. He looked to get a slight nick on the ball before bringing the English striker down but referee Martin Atkinson didn’t hesitate and pointed straight to the spot.
Birmingham were furious, and surrounded the referee to protest with Stephen Carr collecting a yellow card for his dissent. However, it made no difference as Milner stepped to take the penalty and hammered it straight down the middle to give Villa the lead.
McLeish made his final change immediately, throwing on Kevin Phillips in place of Gardner but Villa held out to deny the Blues an opportunity to grab an equaliser. The result sees Villa leapfrog Manchester City into fifth place, level on points with Spurs in the race for fourth, having played a game extra.
Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Carlos Jimenez Cuellar, Stewart Downing, Stiliyan Petrov, 8-James Milner, Ashley Young's seven-, John Carew (Emile Heskey 70), Gabriel Agbonlahor
Birmingham: Joe Hart, Gregory Vignal (Stuart Parnaby 76), Liam Ridgewell, Roger Johnson, Stephen Carr, James McFadden, four-Lee Bowyer, Barry Ferguson, Craig Gardner (Kevin Phillips 85), Sebastian Larsson (Keith Fahey 76)