Aston Villa 1 Newcastle United 2
These are not good times for David O'Leary and, after a pulsating match, he wore the facial expression to prove it.
His Aston Villa team missed a penalty and lost 2-1 to a Newcastle United team that finished with ten men. Eric Djemba Djemba has still not returned from the African Cup of Nations. The injury crisis, which has already decimated the squad, continues to grow.
Worse still, O'Leary was accused by Glenn Roeder, the Newcastle caretaker manager, of being "spiteful". Apparently, O'Leary said that Newcastle "should appoint Glenn as manager straightaway because, with that luck, he will win the Premiership".
O'Leary was correct when he suggested that Villa deserved to win this match - they had far more chances than Newcastle - but luck had little to do with it.
It was the performance of Shay Given, the Newcastle goalkeeper, which did much to ensure victory for the visitors. Bad defending from Villa and a missed penalty by Milan Baros, their striker, did not help O'Leary's cause.
Shola Ameobi and Charles N'Zogbia scored for Newcastle and, although Luke Moore equalised in between, there was little about which Villa could be enthused.
True, seven members of the Villa team were a product of the club's flourishing youth policy, but this game is all about results and, yet again, the team failed to produce the goods at home.
Villa have only won three Premiership matches at Villa Park this season, a statistic that would, under normal circumstances, make them relegation material.
They are safe from relegation primarily because of their away form. But Villa are still too erratic for their own good.
They missed a penalty when they drew 1-1 away to Newcastle last October and did the same again. O'Leary might suggest that Newcastle are "lucky" but, really, he only has himself to blame.
Newcastle took a dramatic lead after only 80 seconds. Nolberto Solano, the former Villa mid-field player, fed Alan Shearer whose instinctive first-time flick allowed Ameobi time and space to score from close range.
Moore equalised, however, with his fifth goal in three matches.
In the 17th minute, the Villa striker, who is 20 today, headed home at the near post after a fine cross by Craig Gardner.
On the half-hour mark, Newcastle restored their lead, taking advantage of hesitancy in the Villa defence. Shearer fed Solano whose low shot was beaten out by Thomas Sorensen, the Villa goalkeeper, but only as far as N'Zogbia, who scrambled the ball home.
It had been an interesting first half but the second half was better.
Newcastle were reduced to ten men when Babayaro was sent off for fouling Baros just when the Villa striker seemed set to score. But Baros's penalty was horribly weak and horribly straight, making it easy for Given to save.
Later, with Villa pressing and Newcastle defending for their lives, Liam Ridgewell headed the ball against the crossbar from eight yards out, while Juan Pablo Angel was unfortunate to see his effort saved brilliantly by Given.
Villa Park was half-empty by the time O'Leary and Roeder shook hands. Terry McDermott, Roeder's assistant, was jumping for joy just as he did when he destroyed O'Leary for Liverpool against Arsenal in the 1979 Charity Shield at Wembley.
A generation on and O'Leary still looks like a man who has gone on holiday only to realise that he has left the gas on. Jlloyd Samuel, Lee Hendrie and Craig Gardner were added to the injury list last night and, suddenly, the prospects for the FA Cup tie against Manchester City on Saturday are bleaker.
It is a shame for Gardner. He performed well on his full debut and, at 19, appears to have a healthy future at Villa Park. Why, he even aroused a compliment from O'Leary, which is something of a rarity.
"I wasn't sure how he was going to perform," the manager said. "He was in the side because of the lack of numbers and did very well."