Lee Hendrie rounded off Aston Villa’s first win in six game with another outstanding individual goal. The midfielder is gradually winning his way back into David O’Leary’s good books with a series of stunning strikes following a number of off-the-field indiscretions.

Hendrie, who had already scored long-range goals against Crystal Palace and Arsenal in recent weeks, rattled in his third goal in four games with a wonderful curling effort that gave Edwin van der Sar little chance. The Fulham goalkeeper had already been comprehensively beaten by Nolberto Solano’s fine free-kick – and the paucity of this display will have Chris Coleman contemplating a possible relegation battle.

They could have been absolutely hammered at Villa Park were it not for Darius Vassell squandering several good chances. The misfiring striker showed plenty of application but failed to impress England coach Sammy Lee. He showed real pace to get away from Ian Pearce but his 20-yard shot lacked enough power to seriously threaten van der Sar. His tangle with Pearce ended the experienced defender’s afternoon, with Fulham forced to send on Zesh Rehman in an early change.

Vassell then screwed a shot from an acute angle so far wide that it went out for a throw-in, which rather summed up his forgettable afternoon in front of goal. The mood around Villa Park was lifted when Solano’s first league goal arrived from a central free-kick that proved too hot for van der Sar to handle. Vassell failed to hit the target again when played in by Juan Pablo Angel but it was largely one way traffic with Fulham’s solitary attack seeing Steed Malbranque’s speculative shot fly wide.

That pattern continued into the second half with Vassell again culpable for not extending Villa’s lead when he lost control of the ball six yards out after Angel had flicked on Jlloyd Samuel’s cross into a dangerous position. Fulham responded with a brief flurry that saw shouts for a penalty against Hendrie waved away and Jensen shoot high into the Holte End after being picked out by Mark Pembridge.

Hendrie settled any nerves amongst the home fans with his latest eye-catching effort before Boa Morte missed the opportunity to grab a late consolation for Fulham after overruning the ball when he bore down on Thomas Sorensen.

ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Delaney, Samuel; Solano, McCann, Hendrie (Hitzlsperger 87), Whittingham (Davis 78); Angel, Vassell (C. Cole 62). Subs (not used): Postma, Ridgewell.

GOALS: Solano 29, Hendrie 75.

Fulham (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Pearce (Rehman 10); Diop, Jensen (John 69), Pembridge; Malbranque, Boa Morte, A. Cole (McBride 88). Subs (not used): Crossley, Radzinski.


REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).