Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill has praised his side's ability to fight to the end after watching them leave it late yet again.

Villa snatched a 1-0 victory at Hull on Tuesday to move into fourth in the Premier League when Kamil Zayatte diverted Ashley Young's 88th-minute cross into his own net.

That came after a last-gasp equaliser against Arsenal on Boxing Day and another late winner at West Ham in the previous game.

O'Neill admits there have been signs of tiredness in those games but he has no complaints as his side go into 2009 firmly in Champions League contention.

O'Neill said: "I think we are always capable of producing something, always capable of doing that. It was the same at West Ham. Just when you thought we had no more energy to give, then suddenly we produced a goal.

"I thought Hull were unfortunate but I will take the win - we have played matches this season where we have not got what we deserved.

"I'm delighted with the players, they keep going. They have conjured a win when it didn't look like it."

O'Neill accepts it is perhaps no surprise that his side looked weary at the KC Stadium given the intensity of their thrilling 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

Having played their first competitive match in the Intertoto Cup at the height of summer, it has already been a long season for Villa but O'Neill feels they are coping well.

O'Neill said: "I thought it was interesting to hear Arsene Wenger say he felt Arsenal were below par after a big, big effort at Villa Park.

"I wouldn't agree too often with Arsene but I think he may well have a point.  I thought it was a big effort from us to come back. Maybe I was expecting a bit more jauntiness from us and it wasn't there, but we have won.

"We have been on the go since July and we have got a tough couple of months ahead of us. I thought that was beginning to show then Young produced a bit of magic."

It now falls to Villa to prove they can last the pace to break the stranglehold of the 'big four' on the Champions League places.

"I am ecstatic - 38 points on the board from 20 games is fantastic going from the team," said O'Neill, who now prepares his players to face Gillingham in the FA Cup this weekend.

"The players are delighted with themselves. They accept with every game the problems they have had to cope with and so far they have been up to the task."