O'Neill eyes seven heaven

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Martin O'Neill feels another four points from Aston Villa's three remaining group games will see his side through to the next stage of the UEFA Cup.

The Villa boss could not have asked for a more ideal start to the Group F campaign than with his side's relatively comfortable 2-1 victory in front a 37,000 crowd at Villa Park.

"The pressure was on us to open up with a win, and we've achieved that," remarked O'Neill. "You would have thought seven points would be enough to finish in the top three, and I'd say that would be a proper target."

He added: "I'm delighted we were under pressure because you can't play games in Europe without it, and we responded really well. Now we will have to think about trying to win our other home game (against MSK Zilina) and getting something from the away games.

"If you've got seven points on the board it means you've won two games, and that should get you at least third in the group. So it's certainly a good start for us."

The home fans were treated to the sight of Martin Laursen setting Villa on their way with an eighth-minute header as he rose to meet an inswinging Ashley Young corner.

Although Villa's lead lasted just 14 minutes as Thomas Vermaelen took advantage of some sloppy marking at a Urby Emanuelson corner, Gareth Barry saw Villa home.

Young was again the supplier with a left-wing cross Oleguer Presas Renom could only steer into the path of Barry, whose trusty left foot swept home his third goal this season, all in the UEFA Cup.

The only sour note for O'Neill came in injury-time when Gabriel Agbonlahor, on his own in attack with John Carew sidelined with illness, was taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.

"He has a lot of cuts across both knees after going in for the challenge," added O'Neill. "We're hoping that's all it will be. I'm hoping he hasn't done any damage, and the doctor is hopeful."

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European News
Gabriel Agbonlahor
John Carew
Gareth Barry
Ashley Young
Aston Villa

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