Lambert – first half cost us

Aston Villa

Paul Lambert knows Aston Villa cannot afford to perform as they did in the first half of their 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle.

Moussa Sissoko, a £2million capture from Toulouse, set up the opening goal for Papiss Cisse and impressed in his central midfield role.

Yohan Cabaye’s stunning strike doubled the Magpies’ lead and all Villa could manage in a second-half fightback was Christian Benteke’s penalty.

Villa dropped into the bottom three as a result, and manager Lambert said: “We paid the price for starting too slowly. We just never got going in the first half. The second half, that’s the way to play football.

“The first goal was really disappointing; the second goal, you sometimes can’t stop them – it was a terrific strike – and then you are facing an uphill battle.

“But I couldn’t fault them for the way they played in the second half. It is the first time I’ve seen a standing ovation when you’ve been beaten, especially at home.

“I just said to the players ‘you can’t play like that in the first half and turn that performance in during the second half’.

“It is sometimes easier to play when you are 2-0 down because no-one expects anything then. You’ve got to start like that – and we never started.”

Lambert confirmed central defender Richard Dunne has suffered another setback to his groin after already undergoing three operations.