O'Neill hails Guzan as Villa claim crucial victory
Martin O'Neill hailed goalkeeper Brad Guzan as a star of the future after the American helped Aston Villa to a 1-0 UEFA Cup victory over Slavia Prague.
The 24-year-old, making only his second appearance for Villa, pulled off a string of fine saves as the midlanders became the first visiting team to win at the Eden Stadion.
Guzan's summer move to Villa was a case of second time lucky after he was denied a work permit when O'Neill initially tried to sign him in January.
And the Villa boss was thrilled the keeper justified the faith shown in him with a stellar display.
"I think he's a great goalkeeper in the making and I'm delighted he got his work permit, and I think he's following in a long line of great American goalkeepers,'' said O'Neill.
"I thought he was brilliant and all the things we felt we saw in him when he was in America, we're delighted they've come out.''
Guzan showed impressive composure to put in a flawless second-half showing in front of Slavia's passionate fans - something that did not surprise his manager.
"I've never had any doubts about Brad Guzan from when he came over to us and didn't get his work permit the first time,'' O'Neill continued. "I said to him 'not to worry, if you still want to come here we'll see this through and in six months' time we'll do it again'. He's got a fantastic temperament.''
John Carew scored the only goal of the game in the 26th minute, deflecting in a shot from Steve Sidwell, as Villa made it six points from two games in Group F.
O'Neill added: "I thought it was a great game of football. I thought we were really excellent in the first half, perhaps could have scored some more goals, but I was expecting, and got, a second-half onslaught from Slavia Prague and I thought they proved what a really good footballing side they are.
"However, overall I thought we deserved to win the game and we're delighted to have won.''
The Villa manager showed faith in his squad by making six changes from the side beaten 2-0 at Newcastle on Monday for Villa's second of three matches in seven days.
Slavia coach Karel Jarolim felt the alterations may have worked against his side and admitted he was surprised by the visitors' line-up.
"Some information came out they could change some players but we were a bit surprised, there were more changes than we expected,'' he said. "The regular players might have been more tired and the players that came in had a great motivation to get into the team.''