Villa character delights McLeish

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Football News

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish heaped praise on his players after his side earned a 2-2 draw against Everton at Goodison Park.

The Villains started poorly and were deservedly behind at the interval on Merseyside, but an improved second-half performance helped the visitors take a point back to the Midlands.

Stiliyan Petrov and Gabriel Agbonlahor both scored equalisers, the later coming in the closing stages of the game, leaving 'Big Eck' delighted with the 'bottle' shown by his players.

"I said at half-time, I hadn't seen the spirit of the team. Fair enough, we didn't have a good game technically, but we had to show the real bottle for the occasion and I thought we had that in the second half," said the former Birmingham boss.

"We held Everton in for about 20 minutes and we got the goal and then sadly we sat back and they came back at us again. I thought it was a really open second half after that and could have gone either way.

"It was a great response. At half-time, having worked with these guys for only a couple of months, you don't know about the resilience and spirit, but my goodness, we saw that."


The only downer for McLeish was injuries, with striker Emile Heskey limping off with a hamstring problem and midfielder Jermaine Jenas absent from the team sheet after aggravating an injury in training.

Both are set to be sidelined for a fortnight, and the manager admitted it was a blow to lose both players at such an early stage in the season.

"It was a bit disappointing because Emile has played all of the games, he's looked very strong, he's done a great job for the team and he's had a two-week rest and then his hamstring goes. It's difficult to understand why but that's what happens," said McLeish.

"But I have to say the substitutes did terrific for us and (Barry) Bannan proved to be even more effective on the right-hand side of the field, where he played for Scotland in midweek."

On Jenas, he added: "He (Jermaine) decided to come and train such was his keenness to be involved. You can't knock a player for that."

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Gabriel Agbonlahor
Stiliyan Petrov
Premier League
Aston Villa

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