Houllier relieved by derby win

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Gerard Houllier admitted his overriding feeling was one of relief after Aston Villa overcame West Brom 2-1 in the midlands derby clash at Villa Park.

Villa ended a sequence of three successive Barclays Premier League defeats thanks to goals from Stewart Downing and the fit-again Emile Heskey. Albion could only manage a last-minute consolation from Paul Scharner.

It was the perfect tonic for Houllier after fans had criticised his behaviour on returning to Liverpool for Monday's clash at Anfield which saw Villa beaten 3-0, and the Frenchman said: "The defeat at Liverpool hurt us, more with the way it happened. We needed to sort out a few things. We were a bit shaky at times which is normal when you are having a bad run."

He added: "But I was pleased with the attitude of the players. When you go through a bad patch, you need to keep cool and more focused on a few things.

"West Brom are a good team. They won at Arsenal and Everton, and drew at Manchester United, and came here full of confidence.

"The feeling is one of relief and I was proud of the response of the players."

Houllier decided to leave out acting skipper and central defender Richard Dunne but his replacement, Carlos Cuellar, formed a solid partnership with James Collins.

The boss said: "Our job as managers is to make decisions. Cuellar played extremely well. He was strong and solid."

Houllier added that he was also "pleased with the reaction" of supporters who applauded him on his way to the dug-out.

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

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West Bromwich Albion
Stewart Downing
Emile Heskey
Premier League
Carlos Cuellar
Manchester United
Paul Scharner
Richard Dunne
James Collins
Aston Villa

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