A saved penalty and a clean sheet, paired with Ezri Konsa’s
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
New was the theme of the evening for Aston Villa’s start to the Premier League season. New season, three new players and a new confidence ahead of the game. The Villans hosted Sheffield United for their first game at Villa Park in the 20/21 competition.
Aston Villa were the side who had the first attempt, as Ollie Watkins cleverly found the onrushing Matty Cash in acres of space on the right. He rushed forward before playing in a ball to the back post for John McGinn, who fired over on the volley.
John Lundstram was booked just ten minutes into the game as Jack Grealish looked to counter and the midfielder slid in with a tactical foul.
John Egan, the Sheffield United centre-back was shown a straight red card just minutes for denying a ‘clear goal-scoring opportunity’ for Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins, as the Republic of Ireland international was grappling the forward and stopping him reaching the ball before United keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Aston Villa were the dominant force in the game, with Hourihane tasked with playing a number of set pieces into the box that his team-mates couldn’t make the most of – but they were certainly the stronger side within the first half an hour.
The 31st minute saw Sheffield United make a change, sacrificing David McGoldrick for Ethan Ampadu.
Sheffield United we awarded a penalty in the 33rd minute as Oliver Burke played a cutting pass into the path of Chris Basham, who was tripped – mainly through his lack of positional awareness – by Matt Targett. After the VAR check, Lundstram stepped up to the spot and fired towards the bottom left. Martinez dived to his right and produced a top quality save to keep the scoreline level.
There were four minutes added on to the end of the first half.
As the two sides resumed in the second half, it looked as if Ezri Konsa had tweaked his hamstring – and Kortney Hause started to warm-up as it looked likely that the centre-back would be replaced.
Aston Villa were dominating the game, but struggling to break down Sheffield United’s low block, set-up to suffocate the home sides attacks.
The hour mark saw Conor Hourihane replaced by Keinan Davis, and directly after the change Aston Villa saw themselves take the lead. A corner into the box was headed on by Tyrone Mings at the near post, finding Ezri Konsa at the back post, who’s weak header flummoxed Ramsdale and nestled into the net.
Following the goal, Osborn replaced Fleck for Sheffield United.
Jack Grealish fired just wide in the 68th minute as he found himself in space on the edge of the box after smart work from Ollie Watkins. Sheffield United made their final change, replacing Chris Basham with Oli McBurnie.
Trezeguet struck on the half-volley in the 77th minute after Jack Grealish found the Egyptian at the far post, but he struck the ball into the ground and wide. Ollie Watkins had a chance a minute later with a curling effort from just inside the box which went just over the bar.
Jack Grealish had an opportunity with ten minutes remaining after working his way into the box, but fired the ball wide. Matty Cash was booked for time-wasting at a throw-in just a few minutes later.
Sheffield United looked to even the scoreline, but the Villa defence remained steadfast and Wilder’s men struggled to get opportunities on goal.
There were three minutes added on at the end of the 90. In the 91st, Jack Grealish had a shot deflected over the bar.
A good start to the season and a good three points against a resolute Sheffield United side.