Aston Villa dominated promotion rivals Middlesbrough from start to finish in this evening’s Sky Bet Championship game, and scored three against the best defence in all of the English leagues.
Words by Regan Foy
Early on into the game, Villa’s defence looked shaky as they stumbled and crumbles into each-other at the pressure mounted.
From here though, Aston Villa looked to press and ended up dominating the rest of the first five minutes. It looked strong when Villa’s attackers were winning balls before ‘Boro even had the chance to start a counter-attack.
Tammy Abraham very nearly made it 1-0 just after the ten minute mark as he ball dropped to him in the box and he side footed it at goal. If it was not for the quick reactions of Darren Randolph and the strong left hand, the Villa would have had the lead.
For much of the next ten minutes, Aston Villa were dominant and Middlesbrough struggled to get out of their own half.
And before the twenty minute mark, the pressure paid off. Jack Grealish swung a corner into the box, and Randolph found himself caught on Anwar El Ghazi – leaving captain James Chester to flick his boot at the ball and the ball into the back of the net.
Realistically, those are the only real talking points in a half where Aston Villa were dominant both on and off the ball.
Middlesbrough started the second half eager to try and even the playing field.
Realistically, there was nothing much to talk about in the first fifteen of the second half, other than a nasty injury for Dale Fry and Adam Clayton and Brit Assombalonga joining the fray.
That is, until, the 63rd minute.
After a corner, Jack Grealish found the ball at the edge of the box – held it up for a short while and played a killer through ball into Yannick Bolasie, who played the ball across the face of goal for Tammy Abraham to slot home – and even if he hadn’t, El Ghazi was just behind him.
Around the 72 minute mark, Yannick Bolasie was replaced by Jonathan Kodjia.
And just eight minutes later, Tammy Abraham looked to pick up a knock, and was replaced by Scott Hogan – and John McGinn was replaced by Glenn Whelan.
Just one minute after coming on to the pitch, both Scott Hogan and Glenn Whelan made an immediate impact. Hogan made a winding run, getting beyond the defence and fired a shot which Randolph parried back into his box and into the path of El Ghazi, who laid the ball to Hourihane, who played it to Glenn Whelan who struck from outside the box. Randolph then fumbled his save, and the ball went in.
From here, the Villa side kept possession well and ensured that all three points were secured.