Goals from Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Tyrone Mings mean that Aston Villa have won back-to-back games in the Premier League at the start of this season.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled for their first away day of the season against newly promoted Fulham, at Craven Cottage.
The Villans cut a path through Fulham in the opening four minutes, as John McGinn lobbed a deft ball into the box to meet Jack Grealish’s clever run. The Aston Villa captain caught the ball well, dribbled forward and netted past Areola in the home side’s net.
Matt Target was booked for a late challenge on Kenny Tete in the 11th minute, meaning the left-back would have to be careful as the game moved forward. Decordova-Reid also received a booking for Fulham for some choice words with the referee.
Aston Villa’s second goal was incredibly well worked, as Jack Grealish’s quick thinking from a throw-in found Ollie Watkins, who held the ball up well down the left – before playing the ball back to Jack who raced towards the near post, poking the ball into John McGinn, who’s touch stopped the ball for Hourihane to poke home with a right-footed rarity.
A dream start for Aston Villa with just 17 minutes on the clock.
Tom Cairney was booked for a foul on John McGinn in the 23rd minute as frustration began to mount for the home side.
Ollie Watkins could have picked up his first Premier League goal in the 27th as Trezeguet played a ball across the face of goal, but the new Aston Villa forward couldn’t quite stretch to the ball. In retrospect, he would have been offside had he touched it.
Fulham were forced into a change several minutes before half time as Kenny Tete was replaced by Kamara.
There were four minutes added on at the end of the half.
Joe Bryan was booked for a hard challenge on John McGinn in the 47th minute.
Aston Villa walked in at half time two goals to the good, with a struggling Fulham side looking dejected walking in ahead of their manager.
The first act of the second half saw Denis Odoi booked for pulling back Jack Grealish down the left-hand flank, renewing old rivalries between the pair.
The second act was a Conor Hourihane free-kick, played over the Fulham defence – which Tyrone Mings latched onto to poke the ball past Areola and make Aston Villa’s lead another goal stronger after just three minutes of the half had gone.
Decordova-Reid pulled a goal back in the 56th minute, a possible consolation for the home side, but the referee ruled the goal out after checking the screen pitch-side, as Mitrovic had bundled Ezri Konsa to the floor in the build up. Martinez should have arguably done better, with his bundled save letting Decordova-Reid have the shot in the first place.
John McGinn was booked in the 60th minute for a poor challenge on Tom Cairney.
Grealish had an opportunity to grab a brace in the 66th minute as Matty Cash’s cross found him at the far post, but the Aston Villa captain’s first time volley flew narrowly over the bar.
The 74th minute saw Jacob Ramsey preparing for his Premier League debut on the sideline, as the youngster eventually replaced Hourihane two minutes later.
With seven minutes remaining, Bertrand Traore replaced Trezeguet for Aston Villa.
Tyrone Mings almost grabbed a second for himself in the 85th minute, as he rose to meet McGinn’s free-kick and forced Areola into a reaction-save to tip the ball over the bar. Before the corner was taken, Marvelous Nakamba replaced Douglas Luiz.
Aston Villa have now won back to back Premier League games and are six points to the good at the start of this oddest of seasons.