Aston Villa 4-2 Nottingham Forest: Villans edge closer to Champions League qualification

With Unai Emery’s Aston Villa establishing themselves as serious contenders for UEFA Champions League football next season, the Villans welcomed Nottingham Forest to Villa Park on Saturday.

AVL: Martínez; Moreno, Torres, Lenglet, Cash; Ramsey, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey; Watkins, Tielemans

NFO: Sels; Niakhaté, Murillo, Felipe, Williams; Danilo, Domínguez; Hudson-Odoi, Gibbs-White, Elanga; Awoniyi

It took merely four minutes for Aston Villa to seize the lead on Saturday, as Ollie Watkins finished off a fine move from Leon Bailey on the right flank to dispatch past Matz Sels for his 14th Premier League goal of the season.

Two goals in ten minutes from Douglas Luiz put the Villans in control of the fixture, as the Brazilian slotted home from a neat Jacob Ramsey cutback before heading John McGinn’s cross past Sels.

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But Moussa Niakhaté would claw one back for Nottingham Forest on the stroke of half time, poking home with his chest to register his first goal for the club – and when Morgan Gibbs-White chipped Emi Martínez just three minutes into the second half, it looked as though a sensational comeback could have been on the cards.

Having registered the assist for the opening goal, Bailey netted Aston Villa’s fourth of the afternoon on the hour mark. With the visitors dispossessed in their own half, the Jamaican international picked up the pieces after Watkins’ initial strike was denied and slotted home into an open goal.

Unai Emery’s men now move five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur and will look to further widen that gap when they face Luton Town at Kenilworth Road next Saturday. Nottingham Forest remain four points clear of the relegation zone, and have a tricky week ahead of them as they host Manchester United in the Emirates FA Cup before welcoming Liverpool to Anfield next Saturday.