Intertoto Cup: Aston Villa 1 Odense BK 0
An horrific injury to Aston Villa left-back Wilfred Bouma was the only sour note as Martin O'Neill's men cruised into the Uefa Cup qualifiers with an Intertoto victory over Danish side Odense BK..
Even the Gareth Barry boo-boys were noticeable by their absence as the Villa Park crowd actually greeting their wantaway skipper with raptures of applause as he entered the fray in only the 14th minute as a replacement for the stricken Dutchman.
An Ashley Young wonder strike was in the end the difference between the two teams but it will be the memory of their team-mate Bouma lying prostrate on the turf with his ankle bent at a sickening right angle which will stay with these young players long after the result.
Villa had started the match brightly with a team unchanged from that which had returned from Denmark with a 2-2 draw and with those precious away goals and news from the stands that Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel was watching - having signed a £2.5 million deal before kick-off - meant a huge wave of optimism over Villa Park.
In the very first minute right back Craig Gardner tested the Odense defence when his effort was cleared and then Ashley Young was forcing a save from BK keeper Arkadiusz Onysko.
Nigel Reo-Coker, the latest Villa player to be rewarded with the captain's armband, was enjoying a more free-roaming midfield role and found Young out on the left time and again to cause the Odense defence problems.
But it was actually the Danes who went closest to opening the scoring when former Villa midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba found striker Baye Djiby Fall in space and he in turn found Henrik Hansen who forced a spectacular one-handed reflex save from Stuart Taykor.
But minutes later Villa Park was stunned into silence as an innocous challenge from Fall on Bouma saw the Dutchman collapse on the turf his right leg jutting up in the air and his ankle visibly contorted. several of Bouma's team-mates recoiled at the sight with Zat Knight and Craig Gardner among those visibly shaken.
As Bouma was stretchered from the field, he was substituted by Gareth Barry who on this occasion was roundly applauded by the home fans - many of whom gave him a standing ovation.
Helveg then fouled Young and sent him sprawling and the Villa winger stepped up to take his free kick on the edge of the area only for it to dip just over the bar. Young then found big John Carew from a corner who in turn found Steve Sidwell but his header was pushed just wide by the Odense keeper.
Fall might then have had a goal at the other end after beating Zat Knight and Stuart Taylor but his shot rebounded off the far upright to save Villa.
Whatever manager Martin O'Neill's half-time team talk it worked with Sidwell first playing Gabriel Agbonlahor in only for his shot to dip over the goal and then Reo-Coker finding Young whose right-footed effort in the 50th minute smashed past Onyszko in the Odense goal.
Martin Laursen - who scored in the first leg in his native homeland - might have had another after attempting to connect with a Carew header but the ball was punched clear by the keeper.
In the end the single goal was enough to see Villa through in a win which they will no doubt dedicate to their courageous Dutch defender who had spent the summer away at the European Championships with Holland.
And with no fresh interest from Liverpool, who look to have spent their remaining funds on striker Robbie Keane, the cries of Barry for Villa may be sweet music to the ears of O'Neill.
The Villa manager now has no fit full backs with young Stephen O'Halloran also out with a long term injury.
And perhaps yet Villa's skipper may stay after all.
Villa find out their Uefa qualifier opponents in a draw on Friday lunchtime.
Scorers: Young (50).
Villa: Taylor, Gardner, Knight, Laursen, Bouma (Barry, 16 ), Reo-Coker, Petrov, Sidwell, Young, Carew, Agbonlahor. Subs not used:Parish, Harewood, Salifou, Routledge, Osbourne, Maloney.
Odense: Onyszko, Andreasen (Bolanos,74 ) Sorensen, Haaland, Troest, Helveg (Ruud, 45), Djemba-Djemba, Hansen, Absalonsem, Runstrom (Jaconsen, 83) Fall. Subs not used: Lindegaard, Bisgaard, Nymann, Nielsen.
Bookings: Absalonsen, (foul on Sidwell, 57).
Villa man of the match: Ashley Young - made his goal count and looked a threat all afternoon.