Houllier relieved with derby win

Published Dec. 12, 2010 7:16 a.m. ET

Villa ended a sequence of three successive Premier League defeats thanks to goals from Stewart Downing and the fit-again Emile Heskey. Albion could only manage a last-minute consolation from Paul Scharner. It was the perfect tonic for Houllier after fans had criticised his behaviour on returning to Liverpool for Monday's clash at Anfield which saw Villa beaten 3-0. He said: "The defeat at Liverpool hurt us, more with the way it happened. "We needed to sort out a few things. We were a bit shaky at times which is normal when you are having a bad run. "But I was pleased with the attitude of the players. When you go through a bad patch, you need to keep cool and more focused on a few things. "West Brom are a good team. They won at Arsenal and Everton, and drew at Manchester United, and came here full of confidence. "The feeling is one of relief and I was proud of the response of the players." Houllier added that he was also "pleased with the reaction" of supporters who applauded him on his way to the dug-out. Houllier decided to leave out acting skipper and central defender Richard Dunne but his replacement, Carlos Cuellar, formed a solid partnership with James Collins. Houllier said: "Our job as managers is to make decisions. Cuellar played extremely well. He was strong and solid." Baggies head coach Roberto Di Matteo was left to reflect on his side failing to cash in on dominating the opening 45 minutes. Albion clearly missed the cutting edge of leading scorer Peter Odemwingie who was sidelined with groin and calf problems. Di Matteo said: "We deserved at least a point from the game. I think they scored two goals, had one more shot, and not much more in terms of chances. "We started the game very well and put them under pressure. We had a lot of possession and hit the woodwork but could not take advantage of things. "The second half was more difficult because they defended well and were dangerous on the counter-attack as well. "We still believed we could get something out of the game but it was not to be." Di Matteo is hopeful six-goal Odemwingie will be fit for next weekend's derby clash with Wolves.