Keen to return to winning ways after a comprehensive defeat to Liverpool last time out, Aston Villa welcomed Crystal Palace to the Second City on Saturday afternoon. The London side would be buoyed by wins in their last two fixtures – but with Villa’s preparations for their UEFA Europa Conference League clash against Legia Warszawa continuing to heat up, the clash was destined to be an entertaining one.
AVL: Martínez; Digne, Torres, Konsa, Cash; Luiz, Kamara; Zaniolo, Diaby, McGinn; Watkins
CRY: Johnstone; Mitchell, Richards, Andersen, Ward; Hughes, Doucoure; Schlupp, Eze, Ayew, Edouard
With Roy Hodgson unable to be in attendance for this fixture, Paddy McCarthy took charge of the Crystal Palace side as they ventured to Villa Park. A rather lacklustre opening half saw both sides struggle to create chances, bar for Ollie Watkins forcing a save from Sam Johnstone.
But it was Jean Mateta that created the best chance of the game just two minutes into the second half, as he darted down the flank before crossing for Odsonne Edouard. The French forward latched onto the delivery superbly, taking advantage of an error from Emiliano Martinez to bag his fourth league goal of the campaign.
With Palace seemingly on course for victory, Jhon Durán brought an abrupt end to the travelling fans’ celebrations with three minutes of the ninety remaining – and Villa were truly back in contention.
When Ollie Watkins was hauled to the ground inside the penalty area deep inside stoppage time, a lengthy VAR review ultimately awarded the hosts a penalty. Douglas Luiz stepped up to expertly dispatch from twelve yards out, and with 98 minutes played, Villa had the lead for the first time in the afternoon.
Palace flooded bodies forwards in a desperate attempt to restore parity, though that had the opposite effect as a blistering counterattack saw the hosts extend their lead further. Moussa Diaby’s rapid break culminated with a tidy cutback pass for Leon Bailey, who slammed home from close range to bring an end to a chaotic fixture.
While there is no doubting that Villa left it late to record a win on Saturday, a win should provide them with ample momentum to kickstart their UEFA Europa Conference League campaign with three points on Thursday. Kickoff in Warsaw is at 17:45 UK Time, and we’ll have a comprehensive match report published within minutes of the final whistle.
Crystal Palace host Fulham on Saturday, while Aston Villa’s return to Premier League action will see them travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday 24 September.