Friday 03 January 2014
Gareth Southgate scored twice as mid-table Aston Villa shocked Barclays Premier League leaders Leeds United at Elland Road.
The Villa captain struck once in each half, both times from set-pieces by Paul Merson, to inflict Leeds’ second home defeat in 11 League matches.
It was a second consecutive loss for the Yorkshire side over the festive period, after going down 2-0 to Arsenal six days earlier, but they stayed a point clear of Manchester United at the top of the table.
The victory, Villa’s third in four League fixtures, moved them into the top half of the table in 10th place.
Villa deservedly went ahead in the 19th minute when Leeds failed to deal with a Merson corner and Southgate prodded home his first goal for just over a year. Whatever manager David O’Leary said to the home players worked as they equalised within 15 seconds of the restart thanks to a wonder strike by Harry Kewell.
The Australia forward collected the ball just inside the Villa half, flicked it on to his chest and from 35 yards out hit a superb shot that gave David James no chance.
The goal rallied the home side but Villa weathered the storm and regained the lead in the 62nd minute when Southgate headed home a Merson free-kick. Steve Stone was influential for Villa, who almost increased their lead when Julian Joachim hit a post.
“It’s been a good day for us and it comes on the back of a good month," Villa manager John Gregory said: "We’ve had some good results lately.”
Leeds’ lead over Man Utd was not to last, and they picked up only 25 points in their final 17 matches of the season to finish third, 24 points behind the Old Trafford side, who were crowned champions.
Villa, on 29 points after winning at Elland Road, won another 29 points in their final 17 fixtures to finish sixth and just miss out on a place in the UEFA Cup.