McLeish hails superb Villa
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish praised Villa's attitude and composure as they recorded a sensational 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
By Razwan Mirza
Last Updated: 31/12/11 6:09pm
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish hailed Villa's attitude and composure as they recorded a sensational 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Didier Drogba's penalty had given the home side the lead but Stephen Ireland put his off-field problems behind him to equalise before Stiliyan Petrov and substitute Darren Bent both scored in the final seven minutes to put another nail in the Blues' Premier League title hopes.
Villa have endured an inconsistent first half of the season and a run of three games without a win coming into this match, but the Scot was delighted to end the year on a high.
He told Sky Sports: "We persevered and that was the great thing about our team performance today.
"The players never gave up trying to create openings and get forward when the time was right.
"Chelsea did pin us back in the second half and Frank Lampard come on and was a big influence in driving Chelsea forward but we stood firm and we had some brilliant play on the break and it was with composure and speed and incisive passing.
"In the first half we gave the ball away too cheaply and it allowed Chelsea to go forward, get the penalty and get the first goal, but second half I thought we were nearly perfect in terms of with the ball. We never gave it away as much as we did in the first."
McLeish handed out special praise to midfielder Stephen Ireland, who produced a sparkling performance which he capped off with a well-deserved goal.
"All Villa fans will be delighted with Ireland's performance because his running off the ball was great. His touch was great. His interception for the third goal was fantastic. He's really good at that you know. He's not so much a big heavy tackler, but he does read the game very, very well.
"That's his Manchester City form of two season's ago and we need that from Stevie because he's come to Villa as a big player and he hasn't really justified himself, but today goes a long way towards that."