Before last night's 4-0 win, O'Neill told Villa's website: "I think he has been really terrific. I know that the Welsh players thought a great deal of him when he was doing the Wales job. He was a really great player, a class player. Our paths never crossed but I think he is really good.
O'Neill added: "Having seen them at Fulham, they had David Bentley floating around behind Benni McCarthy who was replaced by Jason Roberts.
"They passed it for fun. The full-backs, certainly in terms of Stephen Warnock getting down the left-hand side, they were a real handful.
"I have got the utmost regard for Hughes. He has done very well in the transfer market, especially with the big centre-back Samba who only cost them £500,000.He wasn't always guaranteed playing for his side in Germany.
"I have the utmost regard for them and they have been consistent as well. They qualified for the UEFA Cup last season and they contested the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United the previous season - brilliant.
"They have done really terrifically and Mark Hughes deserves whatever accolades are flying around about him."