Villa making right moves

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Martin O'Neill is satisfied Aston Villa have taken a step in the right direction, after clinching a place in the group stages of the UEFA Cup.

Villa were held to a 1-1 home draw by Litex Lovech on Thursday night but came through the first-round encounter 4-2 on aggregate, having effectively sealed the tie in Bulgaria a fortnight ago.

O'Neill said: "I am just really pleased we are through. We are in the draw on Tuesday, and I am really delighted. We have got some European evenings at Villa Park, which I am really looking forward to."

He added: "I can't say I've talked to loads and loads of fans - but it is something they are definitely looking forward to."

Villa's reward came via an often dour second leg.

"It was hard to get excited by it," O'Neill admitted. "We were leading in the tie 3-1, a wee bit reminiscent of the previous round.

"I was amazed at the crowd that turned up (27,000) - because in essence, the tie was in a good position for us.

"Does it show Aston Villa are back? If I stop to think about it, that is right. Everyone has to fight for it, but it is a step in the right direction for the football club.

"We are into the proper stages, the group stages. The advantages by a million miles outweigh any disadvantage you have. We have got a chance now for younger players to experience this.

"We've earned it. I would have taken this way back in July - and now it is up to us to do what we can."

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