Given his impressive goalscoring record for Celtic, Stiliyan Petrov's failure to score in his opening 15 matches for Aston Villa was something of a surprise. But the Bulgarian midfielder put that right by blasting home a stunning right-foot volley inside the first 90 seconds of the 2-2 draw at Sheffield United. And, after the luck he has had of late, he admitted that he was owed a break.
"It was becoming frustrating," said Petrov, "I have been so close on so many occasions, hitting the post, seeing shots cleared off the line but I've kept working and I've had great support from the lads. Sometimes you have spells like I've had, but that's why it is a team game. That's why we work hard for each other and help each other. We're team-mates and we know somebody will score."
Petrov's barren run went back well into last season; the man who averaged double figures for the seven seasons he was at Parkhead failed to net in his last nine games for Celtic. Not since he scored in a 3-0 win over Aberdeen on March 4 had he enjoyed the feeling of celebrating a goal but he is now looking for Monday night's effort to see his fortunes take off.
"It's a great relief," he said. "I hope there's more to come. People say when you have confidence and you score goals you go and do better."
Certainly, his manager, Martin O'Neill, could see the difference a goal made in his #8 million summer signing. "I thought he was absolutely outstanding," said O'Neill. "His goal clearly gave him a big boost of confidence and he went on to play the way Petrov can.
"His first-half performance was as good a midfield performance as any I've seen from any individual in the Premiership this season."
The only downside was that, after such a dominant first-half display, Villa failed to finish off the Blades, ended up on the end of a spirited second-half fightback and were a shade fortunate to escape with another draw.
That was their tenth in 17 top-flight games under O'Neill, the highest number at this stage of the campaign in 15 seasons of Premier League football and well on the way to beating the Premiership record of 18, equalled by David O'Leary's Villa team in April this year.
"It's unbelievable," said Petrov. "It's so frustrating, particularly after we had so many chances in the first half when we could have won the game."
However, he did generously give credit where it was due to Neil Warnock's battling Blades. "On paper, people said we should have won this game," said Petrov. "But they put in a good performance. They battled and they wanted to score.
"We were comfortable in the first half and managed to deal with them but then, in the second, we were a different team, and we had particular problems with their throws and corners.
We managed to hit back and we should be happy with a point. We're going the right way, but maybe we need to push a bit harder to get these wins."
It doesn't get any easier now for Villa, with home games against two of the top five, Bolton Wanderers and leaders Manchester United, followed by the two Christmas trips to London, to play home specialists Tottenham Hotspur and an unpredictable Charlton Athletic side now under new management. They then play host to champions Chelsea.
But, while acknowledging that Villa now face a testing programme, Petrov said: "That's the Premiership. You want these kind of games. We know it's going to be hard, but we're not going to drop our heads. We're going to go out, try and perform and try and make our fans happy."