Nigel Reo-Coker's crucial strike answered manager Martin O'Neill's challenge to score more goals and put Aston Villa in prime position to qualify for the UEFA Cup group stages.

Reo-Coker pounced on a defensive gaffe to guide in Villa's equaliser on the stroke of half-time at the Gradski Stadion before two Litex dismissals in the second half led to the visitors going on to win 3-1.

"Nigel has come in with two very strong performances there and I am very pleased," said O'Neill. "He said himself a week or so ago when we had a little chat that he wanted to score more goals and I defied him to score more."

Far from a prolific goalscorer in his career to date, 24-year-old Reo-Coker, who found the net only once last season, is in a relative purple patch, having registered the opener in the win at Tottenham.

His conversion of chances has only increased the attention on a side brimming with young English talent.

"I am delighted they're even being thought about for England and even more delighted when they're not picked because I am a club manager and I like to see the boys most days," added O'Neill.

"Their time will come."

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