Bruce starts Villa reign with draw

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Steve Bruce be­gan life as As­ton Villa boss with a for­tu­nate 1-1 draw at home to Wolves in their Cham­pi­onship clash yes­ter­day.

Bruce, who is Villa’s fourth full-time man­ager since Paul Lam­bert was shown the door in Jan­uary 2015, at least saw his side climb out of the rel­e­ga­tion places but Wolves will be kick­ing them­selves for not tak­ing a hat­ful of chances.

Villa have won just once in 12 Cham­pi­onship matches since be­ing rel­e­gated, but the hosts made a great start as Ivory Coast in­ter­na­tional Jonathan Kod­jia stroked home a penalty on the quar­ter­hour mark. How­ever, Wolves, Chi­ne­se­owned like Villa, lev­elled be­fore the break through a penalty of their own, Helder Costa con­vert­ing it. Villa owner Tony Xia, though, will hope Bruce can work his magic at this level hav­ing been pro­moted in his last four sea­sons man­ag­ing in the Cham­pi­onship.

Former Eng­land man­ager Steve McClaren got off to a win­ning start on his re­turn to the Derby County dugout, ek­ing out a nervy 1-0 vic­tory over Leeds United.

Johnny Rus­sell got the only goal in a game where Leeds struck the wood­work twice but County held on for just their third win of the cam­paign. “I think you could see the ner­vous­ness of the play­ers but they showed fight and the at­ti­tude was great,” said McClaren.

NOR­WICH, NEW­CAS­TLE ROLL ON

“I saw cer­tain as­pects I like and po­ten­tial in the team but there is a lot of work and a long way to go,” added the 55-year-old. Both Bruce and McClaren, though, have a whole load of ground to make up on the lead­ers.

Nor­wich went top by a point over fel­low rel­e­gated Premier League side New­cas­tle and Hud­der­s­field-who play Sh­effield Wed­nes­day yes­ter­day-with a 3-1 win over bot­tom side Rother­ham.

Goals from Repub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional Wes Hoola­han, Cameron Jerome and vet­eran Scot­land in­ter­na­tional Steven Nai­smith sealed a com­fort­able vic­tory. “I think we are where we de­serve to be (at the top of the table) be­cause you don’t get there by chance,” said Canaries boss Alex Neil. “The lads have done re­ally well so far and it was good to get an­other win with both Rob­bie Brady and Jonny How­son on the side­lines. “But as I keep say­ing there is a long way to go yet.” New­cas­tle man­ager Rafael Ben­itez, who like Neil stayed put de­spite rel­e­ga­tion, was de­lighted with his side’s im­pres­sive 3-1 win over Brent­ford played out in front of a stag­ger­ing crowd of 51,185. Goals by former Villa de­fender Ciaran Clark and a double by the in-form Dwight Gayle-tak­ing his to­tal to nine in 10 ap­per­ances for New­cas­tle-saw them com­fort­ably home.

“I’m pleased be­cause af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break it’s not easy,” said Ben­itez, whose side have won eight of their last 10 league games. “We did ev­ery­thing we wanted to do-we con­trolled the game and had good chances.

“I’m not watch­ing the table be­cause it’s too soon. I said the other day I was con­vinced we could im­prove; I’m pleased but we can still im­prove.”

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