Aston Villa were ahead twice against Burnley, before goals from Ben Mee, Dwight McNeil and Chris Wood turned the tides.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Turf Moor this evening to face a relatively in-form Burnley side, making one change from the weekend’s victory against Newcastle with John McGinn returning from suspension and replacing Marvelous Nakamba in the starting line-up.
Both sides enjoyed attacks in the opening two minutes, and Aston Villa won the first corner of the game in the third minute – which found Ezri Konsa in a central position but the defender headed his attempt well over the bar.
As the game headed towards the ten minute mark, Burnley were the side on top and the ball spent most of it’s time in Aston Villa’s half – but chances were still falling Villa’s way.
Before the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Aston Villa took the lead. Jack Grealish drew the attention of three players to the ball before playing it out wide for Matt Targett to cross into Ollie Watkins who was running towards the near post. The forward poked with the deftest of touches with his right boot and the ball sailed past a rooted Nick Pope.
In the 23rd minute, James Tarkowski was booked for clattering into Ollie Waktins in Villa’s half.
Bertrand Traore had an opportunity after half hour from the edge of the box, but he couldn’t quite get enough spin on the ball to turn it into the top left corner.
Five minutes before the end of the half and Aston Villa nearly made it two. John McGinn played an incredible ball over the top into Ollie Watkins who found himself one-on-one with Nick Pope, who denied the forward at close range – before Ross Barkley’s rebound smashed against the crossbar.
Bertrand Traore and Tyrone Mings both had efforts blocked shortly after, whilst Matt Targett also had an effort saved by Nick Pope.
Aston Villa went in at the break leading by a goal.
At the start of the second half, Jack Cork replaced Josh Brownhill for Burnley.
Within the opening five minutes of the second half, John McGinn forced Pope into a low save with a fierce shot, whilst Bertrand Traore fired over the bar from the near post.
In the 51st minute, Ben Mee equalised for Burnley. The defender rose the highest at the end of a corner and headed into the far corner past a rooted Emiliano Martinez to level things for the home side.
Around the hour mark and Sean Dyche opted to replace Robbie Brady with winger Gudmundsson.
Jack Grealish almost scored one of the goals of the season in the 63rd minute after racing from near his own corner flag, looping the ball over a couple of players on his mazing run – before being put under enough pressure when taking his shot to knock him off balance. The shot was saved well by Nick Pope. Back down the other end, and Emiliano Martinez produced a super save to deny Chris Wood from giving Burnley the lead.
Grealish would get his goal in the 68th minute, however. The captain played a one-two on the edge of the box with Douglas Luiz, who fired the ball back towards Grealish’s path – and the winger sliced the ball past Nick Pope to restore Aston Villa’s lead.
Burnley’s final change came with 15 minutes remaining with Jay Rodriguez replaced by Matej Vydra. Directly after the substitution Burnley equalised as a low cross from Dwight McNeil nestled into the far corner as no Aston Villa or Burnley players could get a touch on the ball.
In the 78th minute, Aston Villa well and truly collapsed – with Chris Wood able to steer a header onto the post and into the net past the diving Martinez. Twice Aston Villa had lead, and now they were facing leaving Turf Moor with nothing.
Dean Smith reacted with a double change, with Anwar El Ghazi and Trezeguet replacing Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley. Keinan Davis replaced Douglas Luiz with two minutes remaining of normal time.
Despite Villa’s best efforts, Burnley would go on to win the game.