x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Despair to delight for O'Neill

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

The referee Steve Bennett, not in picture, awards a penalty to Hull after thinking Aston Villa's Ashley Young had handled the ball. After consulting a linesman he changed his decision to a goal kick.
The referee Steve Bennett, not in picture, awards a penalty to Hull after thinking Aston Villa's Ashley Young had handled the ball. After consulting a linesman he changed his decision to a goal kick.

Aston Villa put their manager Martin O'Neill through yet more late drama as they moved back into the Champions League places on Tuesday. Villa snatched a 1-0 win from the game at Hull that looked to be heading for a goalless draw when Kamil Zayatte diverted an Ashley Young cross into his own net with 88 minutes gone. That ultimately proved enough to lift Villa above Arsenal into fourth in the Premier League but they were almost undone when the referee Steve Bennett pointed to the penalty spot in injury time.

Bennett thought Ashley Young had handled the ball on the line as it looped towards him off Luke Young following a Hull a corner. Yet following protests from Villa, 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. "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, 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. But the referee has been courageous to change his mind. It was a very brave decision." * PA Sport