O'Neill plays down great expectations

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Martin O'Neill is determined not to let his Aston Villa players get carried away by their momentous victory at Manchester United.

Gabriel Agbonlahor's first-half effort gave Villa their first win at Old Trafford since 1983 and sent them third in the Barclays Premier League, five points behind United, who failed to take the opportunity to draw level with leaders Chelsea. It means Villa have now beaten United, Liverpool and Chelsea this season but O'Neill was wary of reading too much into the result.

"This win will give us a great deal of confidence but that could quickly be eroded at Sunderland on Tuesday," he said.

"It is a really great win, and I am not trying to play it down, but the main thing is the players should be really delighted with their performances against sides that they normally find it hard against."

Even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Villa had edged the first half, but he was irritated at the amount of time added on by referee Martin Atkinson, who decided three minutes was enough for six substitutions and two lengthy injury stoppages.

"The timing should be taken out of the referee's hands," Ferguson said. "Those two stoppages took two minutes and 20 seconds, and then there were the substitutions on top of that. That is disappointing.

"It is silly really. We are nearly in 2010. A change should be made."

"It is a missed opportunity," Ferguson added. "We created plenty of opportunities and we should have taken at least one.

"But this is not an easy league. If you get there, you are going to be taken the distance. As I always say, if we are in touching distance on New Year's Day we won't be far away."

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Gabriel Agbonlahor
Premier League
Aston Villa

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