O'Neill relief as Villa survive scare

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Aston Villa put manager Martin O'Neill through yet more late drama as they moved back into the Champions League places on Tuesday night.

Villa snatched a 1-0 win at Hull when Kamil Zayatte diverted an Ashley Young cross into his own net with two minutes left, but they were almost undone when referee Steve Bennett pointed to the penalty spot in injury time - only to reverse his handball decision.

And O'Neill said: "The referee has been exceptionally courageous to change his mind. It is a very brave decision."

Bennett thought Ashley Young had handled the ball on the line as it looped towards him off Luke Young following a last-gasp Hull corner.

Yet following protests from Villa led by captain Gareth Barry, Bennett changed his mind after consultation with his assistant, who correctly ruled the ball had hit the bar, not Young's raised hand.

"It was delight turned to despair and despair back to delight for us," admitted O'Neill, whose side benefited from late goals in their previous two games against West Ham and Arsenal.

"It's not like us to have a bit of drama at the end," he joked.

"We didn't play well enough, but suddenly when it looked like the game was maybe heading for stalemate, Ashley Young produces a piece of magic, absolutely brilliant. We get the goal, then we had the drama at the end.

"I've no idea why Ashley put his hand in the air. He is a very intelligent player, especially when we came up the corridor and said he knew it was going over the bar."

Hull manager Phil Brown claimed to be bemused by the whole penalty incident, but conceded the "harsh reality" was that it was not a spot-kick.

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European News
Kamil Zayatte
Gareth Barry
Luke Young
Ashley Young
Aston Villa
Hull City

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