Aston Villa continued their excellent run of performances with a strong 3-0 win against play-off rivals Middlesbrough.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Aston Villa moved up into the play-off spots after a 3-0 home win over Middlesbrough thanks to goals from Anwar El Ghazi, John McGinn and Albert Adomah.
It was a dominating performance from the Pride with the three-goal score line equalling that in the reverse fixture.
Early on McGinn headed over the bar from Anwar El Ghazi’s cross, thus setting the tone for things to come.
For the first ten minutes it was constant pressure from Villa, not kick and rush either, but fast possession football.
We just needed a goal to show for it, and after 22 minutes that goal came. McGinn slid a ball across to El Ghazi who took a touch with his left prior to finishing low past Darren Randolph.
From the defence to the attack, everything in the opening 45 minutes was near perfect. Even Glenn Whelan completed all 100% of his passes.
Middlesbrough’s only chance came when Stewart Downing’s low cross into the box found George Friend who hit the ball first time at Jed Steer. That would turn out to be Boro’s only shot on target.
On the stroke of half-time McGinn made it two. A ball from Grealish was dummied by Abraham for the Scot who drove into a pocket of space. McGinn is currently in a rich vein of form, so it was no surprise to see him proceed to rifle the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
El Ghazi could’ve doubled his tally a few minutes into the second period, the Dutchman was played in by Grealish but he dragged his shot agonisingly wide.
Then Ahmed Elmohamady floated in a ball from deep but a falling Abraham couldn’t keep his volley down. Soon after Grealish tested Randolph’s near post.
We kept coming at Boro, Abraham worked space for himself before firing a shot over the bar.
The only negatives from the game were the injuries, with both Abraham and El Ghazi having to be replaced. On a positive note neither looked too serious, and El Ghazi’s injury meant Keinan Davis could get a run out.
Talking of Davis, he helped cap things off dying moments, the substitutes shot was parried by Randolph, but Albert Adomah was there to finish the rebound. 3-0. However, the game as a contest had been over long before then.
The likes of Derby and Bristol City both have games in hand over Villa, so it’s likely that we’ll drop out of the top six once everyone has played 38 games. However, there’s plenty of football left to be played, starting with Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park after the international break. The play-off march is on people!