Aston Villa held on to a single goal lead to take all three points against Southampton this evening.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to action this evening against Southampton, hoping to make amends for the reverse fixture at Villa Park in which Hasenhuttl’s side took all three points.
Ollie Watkins had the first opportunity of the game, racing into Southampton’s box but headed to a wide angle. He fired towards goal but his shot was wide.
Danny Ings almost played Southampton into an early lead after he flicked the ball over Douglas Luiz and attempted a pass into James Ward-Prowse, whose shot struck Matty Cash. There were checks from VAR for a possible handball against Cash in the following minutes, but they were waved away.
Southampton were the side on top for much of the first half, with Villa struggling to get into the opposition final third and the hosts enjoying a more than healthy spell of possession.
Ollie Watkins had another opportunity seven minutes before the end of the half, turning well in the Southampton penalty area before getting a shot off that forced Alex McCarthy into a strong save down to his left.
After being on the backfoot for the previous 40 minutes, it was Aston Villa who took the lead. Grealish snuck behind Ward-Prowse, Southampton’s fill in right-back, before playing a ball into a central area for Ross Barkley – who was unmarked – to head into the net past McCarthy.
Shortly after, Ollie Watkins showed great strength to beat two players towards the near post, before firing at McCarthy.
The half was very much Southampton’s, but it was Aston Villa who went in at the break with the lead.
Southampton started the second half the same way that they’d started the first, and had opportunities early on including a James Ward-Prowse free-kick which was blocked well by the wall.
Ward-Prowse was booked in the 52nd minute for trying to delay a throw-in that Ollie Watkins tried to take quickly.
Diallo was replaced for Southampton in the 59th minute after picking up a knock, and was replaced by Moussa Djenepo.
Ollie Watkins headed wide at the end of a Ross Barkley free-kick on the hour mark, but the forward was offside regardless. Southampton were forced into another change a few minutes later as Che Adams replaced the struggling Theo Walcott.
Emiliano Martinez was called into action to deny Che Adams a great opportunity to equalise in the 70th minute, before Cash was alert and able to hook the ball out of the air.
Southampton continued to pile on pressure as the game headed towards its conclusion, but Aston Villa continued to offer something via counter-attacks.
Emiliano Martinez was called into action again in the 84th minute to deny Stuart Armstrong with a world-class save, before John McGinn and Matty Cash put their bodies on the line to deny any rebound attempts.
Oriol Romeu was replaced by Alexandre Jankewitz in the 89th minute – just before Ross Barkley fired over the bar for Villa. There were six minutes of added time at the end of the 90.
Che Adams forced Emiliano Martinez into another strong save in the 93rd minute, but the ball was put into the net with a real poacher’s rebound effort from Danny Ings. He was called offside, and VAR confirmed it – but it was the finest of margins.
A big away win for the Villa boys!