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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 5, 2006

O'Neill Villa era begins with Hannover draw

Aston Villa started the Martin O'Neill era with a goalless draw against Hannover in Germany.

The Ulsterman was officially unveiled as the new boss last night - just in time to fly out and join the pre-season tour, although goalkeeping coach Eric Steele was left in charge of team affairs.

However, just how much the former Celtic manager will be able to learn from this afternoon remains to be seen, with changes few and far between at the AWD-Arena.

The Germans went closest in a cagey first half when a long-range effort from Hungarian international Szabolcs Huszti grazed the crossbar.

Just before the break, Villa created an opening when Gabriel Agbonlahor crossed for Kevin Phillips, who shot wide.

There were three changes for the start of the second half by Villa, with Mark Delaney, Luke Moore and Gary Cahill replacing Aaron Hughes, Liam Ridgewell and Phillips.

As the match failed to produce much in the way of goalmouth action, the Premiership side took the opportunity to give more players a run-out, with Jlloyd Samuel and Eric Djemba-Djemba introduced just before the hour mark.

With 14 minutes to go, central defender Martin Laursen continued his recovery from a long-term knee injury when he replaced Olof Mellberg.

During the closing stages, Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen had to be alert to save from Jan Rosenthal as the Germans looked to snatch victory.

Villa will next face two games in Holland when they play NEC Nijmegen and FC Groningen before they begin the new Barclays Premiership season at Arsenal on August 19.

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