Despite dominating throughout the game, Aston Villa fail to make their chances pay against West Ham United.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to Premier League action this evening, with some Monday Night Football at the London Stadium against West Ham United – the side that Aston Villa were able to survive on the final day of the previous season against.
It was West Ham United who would take the lead in under two minutes, as a corner flew towards the back post – for Angelo Ogbonna to rise above Matt Targett and head into the net of a rooted Emiliano Martinez.
Whilst there was intent from Aston Villa, they were not testing the West Ham United defence and the home side began to look increasingly more comfortable. The first Aston Villa chance of the night came as Trezeguet fired towards the far post with his right foot – but the ball trickled wide after a deflection.
Conor Hourihane forced Lukasz Fabianski into a save from a free-kick in the 22nd minute, as the Poland international was forced to dive to his right and palm the ball out for a corner.
It was Jack Grealish who took it upon himself to equalise, however. The captain moved into a central position, before racing forward towards the box and firing towards the bottom left. The ball bounced off a challenging Ogbonna and nestled into the bottom corner of the net.
Ten minutes before the end of the half and Aston Villa came close to a second as some well-worked midfield play saw Trezeguet and Ollie Watkins connect in the box before the record signing sweeped the ball just wide of Fabianski’s post.
The game had certain changed in favour, and Aston Villa were comfortable in possession – playing the ball well and of course, drawing fouls – mainly through Jack Grealish.
Conor Hourihane came close three minutes before time with a free-kick, as the Irishman curled a ball over the wall and into the side netting.
West Ham United started the second half with two substitutes as a response to their lacklustre end to the half, with Sebastien Haller and Said Benhrama replacing Michael Antonio and Arthur Masuaku.
They started the second half exactly the way that they started the first – with a goal. Aston Villa found themselves at sixes and sevens as Jarrod Bowen edged forward before playing the ball to the left for Benrahma, who chipped a ball centrally for Bowen to finish the move with a header that looped over Emiliano Martinez.
Pablo Fornals was booked for a reckless kick at Jack Grealish after the winger had handled the ball – and yellow cards for a member of West Ham’s backroom staff and John Terry followed.
Trezeguet had the opportunity to level the score after a well worked counter-attack – but the winger lacked composure and poked towards goal from around five yards out into the outstretched palm of Fabianski.
Matty Cash was booked in the 66th minute for an old-school challenge on Seb Haller as the forward looked to break down the left.
Aston Villa were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute as Trezeguet was pulled to the ground in the box by Declan Rice – before a clash with either Rice’s knee or boot split the forward’s eyebrow open and the Egyptian needed attention. Following this, before the penalty was taken, Bertrand Traoré and Anwar El Ghazi replaced Conor Hourihane and Trezeguet. Ollie Watkins stepped up to take the penalty and smashed the ball into the crossbar.
With 12 minutes remaining, Jarrod Bowen was replaced by Mark Noble for West Ham United.
Aston Villa’s final substitute of the game came in the 88th minute, with Ahmed Elmohamady replacing Matty Cash.
In the 91st minute Ollie Watkins equalised, meeting the end of Matt Targett’s cross to tap home – but what followed was a lengthy VAR delay to check in the striker was onside. The forward was being impeded by Ogbonna in his run, almost being pushed by the Italian, but VAR called it offside.