Football

Houllier hails inspirational Pires

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Gerard Houllier hailed the performance of veteran midfielder Robert Pires as Aston Villa booked a last 16 spot in the FA Cup thanks to a 3-1 home win over Blackburn.

Pires scored his first goal for the club and was an influential figure before he left the pitch to a standing ovation mid-way through the second half.

Houllier said: "He (Pires) is fitter first of all. He played against Sheffield United in the last round and I think he is getting better and better. He has still got the touch and the eye for the pass and he brings some fluency to the game with his technique."

He added: "I was pleased by the reaction of the bench when he scored.

"That is something very telling. The whole bench went up and were very happy and proud for him.

"He is a popular fellow. They like him. He is a nice man.

"We've got to understand he has not got the legs of when he was 30 but he still can run and have an impact."

Houllier will not be appealing against the straight red card handed out to 19-year-old defender Nathan Baker for a challenge on Junior Hoilett after 62 minutes.

He said: "We won't be appealing. It looked harsh from where I was but I can understand the referee has a totally different angle and he was thinking 'feet off the ground.'

"The boy will learn he doesn't need to do that, particularly in the midfield area."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
Robert Pires
Nathan Baker
Sheffield United
Robert Pires
Aston Villa
FA Cup

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