First league goals of the season from Juan Pablo Angel, Marcus Allback and Oyvind Leonardsen ended Aston Villa’s six match winless Premiership run as they beat Fulham 3-1 at Villa Park this afternoon.

Graham Taylor was grateful to register a much-needed three points after a tricky period where his own position has come under question but the former England manager will have been delighted that Villa were much more clinical in the final third than their visitors, who dominated for long periods of the contest but failed to score when they were on top. Jean Tigana’s team have now lost four league fixtures in a row amid concerns that their European exploits could be catching up with the Cottagers.

Angel eased any nerves amongst the Villa faithful by scoring twenty minutes into his return to the starting line-up. The striker ended the tedium of a dreary start by popping up to divert Ian Taylor’s header into the net from a Mark Kinsella corner to punish some poor Fulham marking. Tigana’s team thought they were level after Steve Marlet nodded home Steed Malbranque’s cross but the joy of the travelling fans was quickly curtailed by a contentious offside flag.

The lively Luis Boa Morte looked like Fulham’s likeliest source of an equaliser and almost beat Peter Enckelman with a fierce drive after a fine individual run down the left flank. The Whites continued to pen Villa back in the early stages of the second half and Malbranque did brilliantly to tiptoe through the home defence but blazed badly over with just Enckelman to beat. Any disappointment was shortlived for the Londoners after a pretty passing move culminated in Boa Morte bursting away from Steve Staunton and steering a finish into the corner.

Villa almost fashioned an immediate response as former Tottenham and Wimbledon midfielder Leonhardsen had his shot bravely blocked by Alain Goma. But the visitors still looked more dangerous and Enckelman was extended twice in quick succession by Steve Finnan and substitute Junichi Inamoto. Against the run of play, it was Villa who scored next. Gareth Barry crossed towards Leonhardsen and the Norwegian teed up Allback who drove home to make it 2-1.

Leonhardsen then made sure of all three points seven minutes from time by converting a clever Allback flick on from close range to grab his first goal for more than two years. Defeat was harsh on Fulham – and Tigana clearly has some tough work ahead of him to end their worrying slump.

ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Enckelman, Delaney, Samuel, Mellberg, Staunton (Johnsen 76), Barry, Taylor, Kinsella (Hitzlsperger 62), Leonhardsen, Angel (Allback 45), Dublin. Subs (not used): Postma, Moore.

BOOKED: Leonhardsen, Taylor, Allback.

GOALS: Angel (20), Allback (66), Leonhardsen (83).

FULHAM (4-5-1): van der Sar; Ouaddoh (Stolcers 72), Brevett, Melville, Goma; Djetou (Inamoto 45), Legwinski, Malbranque, Boa Morte (Sava 78), Finnan; Marlet. Subs (not used): Taylor, Knight.

BOOKED: Melville, Boa Morte.

GOAL: Boa Morte (51).

REFEREE Andy D’Urso (Essex).