Petrov pipes up in support of Ireland

Sun, 01 Jan 14:52:15 2012

Stiliyan Petrov insisted Aston Villa's players never stopped believing Stephen Ireland would come good after the midfielder put his Twitter troubles behind him to inspire their shock victory at Chelsea.

Saturday saw Ireland deliver the perfect response to manager Alex McLeish's demand for him to make headlines on the field after making more waves off it over Christmas.

Days earlier, Ireland's girlfriend posted a photograph of the 25-year-old smoking a Shisha pipe on Twitter, something that clearly irked McLeish. But that did not stop the Scot recalling the controversial midfielder, a decision that paid off spectacularly as Villa won at Stamford Bridge for the first time in almost a decade.

Ireland delivered a man-of-the-match display, scoring his first goal for the midlanders and first for more than two years, as well as setting up their game-clinching third in a 3-1 victory.

Despite struggling to make an impact at Villa Park since his £8million move from Manchester City, Ireland never lost the confidence of his team-mates, according to captain Petrov.

"A lot of people have given up on Ireland but we haven't," said Petrov, who scored Villa's second goal. "We can see him every day in training, what kind of player he is, and he came in under a lot of pressure and put in a very fine performance."


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