Aston Villa have managed to stay up, against all odds, on the final day of the Premier League.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
For Aston Villa fans around the world, the nerves hit. Whether that was yesterday, ten minutes before the game, or a week ago – the nerves hit. The biggest game of the season, against West Ham United – a side in strong form – to guarantee Premier League or Sky Bet Championship football next season.
Trezeguet had an opportunity early on with a volley in the second minute, but his shot was taken on the turn and he couldn’t quite grab the right connection on the ball.
Michael Antonio missed a glorious opportunity to put West Ham a goal ahead in the 11th minute as Konjsa misjudged the ball’s landing – but Antonio snatched at the ball and poked it wide.
Samatta hit an on-target header in the 15th, but couldn’t make enough contact with the ball and it landed gratefully into the arms of Lukasz Fabianski.
Just a minute later, McGinn flicked a shot wide on his left, as it bounced away from Fabianski’s far post.
Michael Antonio was booked in the 23rd minute for a technical foul on John McGinn.
As it stood at the first half drinks break, with Arsenal beating Watford 2-0 and Bournemouth beating Everton 1-0, Aston Villa remained above the relegation zone by a point.
Mbwana Samatta was booked five minutes before half-time for a challenge on Angelo Ogbonna.
Jack Grealish had an opportunity two minutes before added time, finding himself in acres of space – but he didn’t put enough power on the ball and fired it directly at Fabianski.
There were three minutes of added time – in which Michael Antonio should have been booked again for a challenge on Conor Hourihane, but both sides went in at the break goalless, and Aston Villa remained outside of the relegation zone.
The second half saw West Ham make some changes, with Haller and Yarmolenko stripped and primed to come on at the London Stadium during the break. They replaced Bowen and Antonio.
Forty-five minutes, sat on a knife-edge.
Aston Villa had an early chance after some smart work from McGinn. He played the ball to Trezeguet down the right who crossed it in for Samatta – but the Tanzanian couldn’t get his shot off.
Ryan Fredericks was booked in the 50th minute for a foul on Jack Grealish (trigger the memory, anyone?).
Yarmolenko hit the side netting with a free-kick on the hour mark, putting hearts in throats for a split second for Aston Villa fans.
The 66th minute saw Keinan Davis arrive on the scene, replacing Mbwana Samatta – whilst West Ham replaced Fornals with Manuel Lanzini.
West Ham had a chance in the 73rd minute as Sebastian Haller met Noble’s cross – but the French forward headed over.
Conor Hourihane and Frederic Guilbert were replaced with fifteen minutes to go, as Marvelous Nakamba and Kortney Hause arrived into the fray.
West Ham had a free-kick on the edge of the box with ten minutes remaining. In a dangerous area, Manuel Lanzini stepped up and fired directly into the head of Tyrone Mings.
Keinan Davis had an opportunity after some lovely skill at the far post, before placing a half-shot towards the far post that Trezeguet couldn’t reach to tap in.
Jack Grealish scored an exquisite goal with six minutes remaining, placing an exceptional shot into the top right corner past Fabianski – but literally a minute later, Yarmolenko took a shot that deflected wickedly off Jack Grealish’s leg and looped over Pepe Reina who was off his line.
In the 87th minute, Mark Noble was replaced by Felipe Anderson. Two minutes later, and Trezeguet was replaced by Anwar El Ghazi.
There were four minutes added on at the end of the 90.
ASTON VILLA REMAIN IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE!