Football: Bolton consolidated their bid for a place in Europe next season as substitute Ivan Klasnic came off the bench to hit an unlikely 86th-minute winner.
The battling home side twice came from behind to snatch the points from their stunned visitors.
Villa were left to wonder how they had dominated this see-saw encounter only to leave empty-handed after Ashley Young’s penalty miss paved the way for a dramatic comeback from their hosts.
With Villa 2-1 ahead, Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen flung himself to his right to save Young’s spot kick after posititioning himself well to the left of centre of his goal.
Darren Bent had fired Villa ahead from close range after just 15 minutes and then hit a post, but Trotters centre-half Gary Cahill glanced home the first of his two goals direct from a Martin Petrov corner to bring Bolton level deep in first-half stoppage time.
And although Marc Albrighton raced in unmarked at the far post to restore Villa’s lead from a Stewart Downing cross after the break, the Trotters again battled back through Cahill after Friedel was only able to palm a fierce Johan Elmander header back into his path.
Klasnic then rammed home a loose ball to clinch victory for the home side after Villa had again failed to clear their lines following successive corners. Bolton boss Owen Coyle was grateful for the points, especially on a day when his team didn’t hit top gear.
“We certainly never played as well as we can today,” Coyle said. “But what we have for everyone to see is a sense of togetherness, a real bravery and a courage that we’re never out of a game.”
The home side somehow survived a fourth-minute scare when Bent sprung Bolton’s offside trap only to hesitate before scuffing his shot harmlessly into the grateful arms of Jaaskelainen.
At the other end, Luke Young came to Villa’s rescue by heading a Kevin Davies effort off the line just moments before Bent rifled a dangerous Kyle Walker cross home to give Villa the lead.
“Frustrated and disappointed” was how Villa manager Gerrard Houllier summed up his feelings following an eventful afternoon.
“I think the penalty was maybe a turning point,” Houllier admitted. “We created so many chances we were cruising at one point and we could have been 4-1 or 5-1 up.”
Bolton’s win sees them climb two places to sixth in the table.