Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill bemoaned his side's dismal defending as Middlesbrough striker Tuncay Sanli dashed their hopes of returning to the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
The Turkish star cashed in on errors by Nicky Shorey and Steve Sidwell to earn Boro a 2-1 success which extended their unbeaten league run to four games. Sidwell had equalised for Villa on his first league start since his £5million summer move from Chelsea but inexplicably gifted Tuncay the winner with two minutes remaining at rain-lashed Villa Park.
O'Neill said: "He (Sidwell) will be very disappointed. His overall performance was very encouraging. He will get into the penalty area and try and score. That will be encouraging for us."
He added: "The first goal was also very poor defensively. It would be foolish of me to say there is no danger when someone plays the ball into your area but we had it covered.
"We should have dealt with it in a much better fashion. We didn't deal with it at all."
Villa seldom fired on all cylinders but O'Neill refused to blame the fact they were playing a third game in six days for their performance.
He said: "It has been a tough old week and three games in six days is hard I must admit but, having said that, the top teams do it, go and play Champions League mid-week, get themselves prepared again for the weekend matches.
"We have been in the Intertoto Cup and UEFA Cup since July. This is where we want to be. It is up to us to try and cope with it."
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