Rafael van der Vaart’s brace was enough to seal victory for Harry Redknapp’s men despite Marc Albrighton’s freakish goal pulling the home side back into the game eight minutes from time.
Jermaine Defoe was sent off in the first half for an apparent elbow on Villa’s centre-back James Collins but the home side were unable to capitalise on their advantage as van der Vaart impressed once again with goals either side of the break.
“The mistake we made was that we conceded a second goal,” said Houllier after the match. “We knew that they would be dangerous on the break but after the second goal it was difficult.
“Although I was proud of their efforts, they did everything to comeback. We got a goal back and probably deserved an equaliser which we didn’t get. It was a bad result, not a poor performance.”
Van der Vaart again proved his value to Harry Redknapp’s blossoming side and Houllier admitted to having attempted to sign the Holland international during his time in charge of Liverpool.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I tried to sign him, but he was too expensive. And then when I was at Lyon I tried to sign him, he was at Hamburg,” he said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So of course when we meet, it is very funny Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we nearly hug each other. But twice he scored twice against us.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a fantastic player because he can play a different position up front. What he likes is to play off the striker but he is disciplined to play on the right or the left. He makes the difference.Ã¢â‚¬Â
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