Villa continue European charge with win over Newcastle

Villa Park played host to a game between two sides pushing for spots in Europe next season. Aston Villa had won six of their last seven games heading into this fixture – and Newcastle United sought to make their winning streak six, having won against Brentford last time out.

AST: Martinez; Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; McGinn, Dendoncker, Luiz; Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins

NEW: Pope; Burn, Botman, Schar, Trippier; Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Murphy, Isak, Gordon

Aston Villa started the game instantly on the front foot, and Ollie Watkins earned himself some space in behind the Newcastle defence. The English striker was pressured by an onrushing Nick Pope though, who did just enough to make Watkins smash his effort off the post.

Newcastle really struggled to make an impact in the first half, with their most notable effort falling to Alexander Isak within the first ten minutes. His effort was saved well by Emi Martinez in the Aston Villa net.

After no let up from Aston Villa, they found their goal through Jacob Ramsey. A lovely ball found Watkins rising highest in the Magpies box, who nodded the ball towards Ramsey – who then blasted it beyond Pope, to put the hosts ahead after 11 minutes.

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The Villains did not stop searching for a second, and shortly after had a flurry of chances. Watkins smashed the ball at Pope, who parried it only as far as Alex Moreno – and the Spaniard’s cross found Ramsey. His effort crashed against the crossbar, and Unai Emery was probably wondering how his side were only one goal up going into the tunnel at halftime.

Newcastle started the second half well, enjoying some long spells of the ball in the opening ten minutes of the half. However, the only notable chance they created was a curling effort from Isak which saw Martinez called to action.

The Toon’s early pressure was soon nullified, and Villa thought they were 2-0 up after a wonderful pass from Moreno found Watkins, who managed to put it beyond an onrushing Pope. However, after a swift VAR check, the English striker was found to be offside and the goal was chalked off.

Newcastle’s luck did not continue, and shortly after they found themselves 2-0 down for a second time – but this goal would actually count. Moreno was involved once again, as the Spanish fullback’s cross found Watkins, who scored past Pope on the half turn after 64 minutes.

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Villa managed the game well for 20 minutes, and then they bagged another to extend their lead. Watkins was once again the goalscorer, after some neat work by John McGinn on the right wing saw the ball played into the area – and the English forward made no mistake with the finish.

Villa saw the rest of the game out well, fending off numerous Newcastle attacks. The Magpies looked very uninspiring, and that’s something Eddie Howe will need to change over the course of the next week ahead of their game against Tottenham.