Aston Villa dominated West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns this evening, and leave their rivals stadium with a 3-0 scoreline.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to The Hawthorns for their second West Midlands derby in under a week, and for the first time since the Play-Off Semi-Final victory that sent Dean Smith’s men to Wembley in 2019.
It took just five minutes for Aston Villa to open their account against the Baggies, as Bertrand Traore played a teasing ball towards to the back post, where Anwar El Ghazi beat Furlong to poke home past former Villan Sam Johnstone in the net.
There was a break in play after a clash of heads in the 19th minute, as Furlong and Targett were downed and clutching their heads. Both players seemed fine to continue, and did so.
Ollie Watkins had a good chance in the 24th minute, but spurned his header at the end of Matty Cash’s cross before he watched the ball fly over the bar. Villa were knocking at the door again.
Jake Livermore was booked for a challenge on Jack Grealish in the 35th minute that should have been a red. VAR told Martin Atkinson to review the challenge on the screen, after which he overturned the yellow and awarded the Baggies captain a straight red.
Kortney Hause was booked for a challenge on Grady Diangana with five minutes remaining in the first half.
There were two minutes of added time at the end of the half, as Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore was tripped 25-yards out from goal and Villa were awarded a free-kick. El Ghazi’s attempt was deflected off an Aston Villa player and out for a goalkick.
Anwar El Ghazi attempted to start the second half as he did the first, with a goal, attempting from 25 yards out – but his shot was saved easily by Sam Johnstone.
John McGinn thought he had made it two five minutes into the half as Jack Grealish rushed into the Baggies’ box before whipping a ball back. McGinn couldn’t quite get his header across the goal and the Scot headed wide.
Ollie Watkins forced Sam Johnstone into a strong save from a tight angle on the hour mark, as the forward was forced onto his left foot at the near post.
Karlan Grant was booked for a trip on John McGinn in the 63rd minute as the midfielder was looking to spark a counter.
Tyrone Mings was booked for a trip on O’Shea in the 65th, as West Bromwich Albion were preparing to bring veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic into the fray.
Ollie Watkins was the player to bag Aston Villa’s second, with an exceptionally worked team goal. Traore played a terrific ball into Matty Cash, who played a ball into the far post for Watkins to slide in at the far post. Or, so he thought, as VAR ruled out what would have been his ninth goal of the season in all competitions.
Anwar El Ghazi hit a sweet shot towards goal from a central position in the box in the 74th minute, forcing Sam Johnstone into yet another strong save. Two minutes after, and Austin and Ivanovic replaced Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana.
With eight of the 90 remaining, Callum Robinson, the former Aston Villa youth academy graduate replaced Karlan Grant.
Bertrand Traore turned from provider to scorer with seven minutes remaining, gliding through the West Bromwich Albion defence, before wrong-footing Sam Johnstone by passing the ball into the bottom left. A great first Premier League goal for Traore.
Aston Villa were awarded a penalty just three minutes later as Semi Ajayi fouled Jack Grealish in the box. Anwar El Ghazi stepped up to take the penalty, firing directly down the middle as Sam Johnstone dived to his left.
Anwar El Ghazi wanted his hat-trick in the 90th after rolling his man in the box, before darting forward and firing towards the top left where Sam Johnstone was able to palm over the bar.