A brace from Ezri Konsa saw another three points picked up by Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to Villa Park for the second time this week after the midweek loss to Manchester City, this time facing Leicester City – who have struggled so far this season by past expectations, and who currently faced mass injury issues.
The game started relatively evenly, with both sides enjoying attacks that amounted to very little in the grand scheme of things. There was a minute break in the game, in which fans from both sides applauded in remembrance of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, the young Birmingham City fan who lost his life so horrifically at the hands of those who should have been looking after him.
The 13th minute, unlucky for some, was unlucky for Aston Villa. A mix-up in the final third allowed Patson Daka to feed Harvey Barnes – in space on the left – who threaded the ball between Ezri Konsa’s legs and past the outstretched diving arm of Emi Martinez.
Just three minutes later, and Aston Villa were back level. A free-kick fired to the back post was headed back into a central position by Matty Cash, which found an unmarked Emiliano Buendia who headed the ball into the bottom right of Schmeichel’s goal. The goal was eventually given to Ezri Konsa, for the very smallest of touches which may have helped the ball find its way into the net.
The next top chance for either side came in the 27th minute, as Jacob Ramsey found Matty Cash in space. The fullback fired towards goal, but was denied by the outstretched foot of the Leicester ‘keeper before the ball went out for a corner – which eventually came to little.
The half came in waves. There were periods for Leicester, and periods for Aston Villa – but one thing was apparent – that neither side was doing too well in terms of holding on to possession for a prolonged period of time.
Just before the end of the half, a ball was played into the back post where Matty Cash headed the ball into the path of Schmeichel, who palmed it into a central position. The ‘keeper managed to plant a hand on the ball before Jacob Ramsey poked a shot at the ball as it nestled into the back of the net. VAR asked Michael Oliver to review the goal via the screen, before overruling the goal as he deemed it to be under Schmeichel’s controll.
Both sides, at the discontent of the Villa fans, went in at the break level.
Aston Villa started the second half the better of the two sides – almost using the officiating decision at the end of the first half as fuel.
Ollie Watkins had a chance after he weaved his way into a central position after a one-two with Jacob Ramsey, but his shot was blocked out for a corner. Matty Cash was waiting in acres of space for a pass, but the forward opted to go it a lone.
The resulting corner, however, worked in Villa’s favour. A ball swung into the back post found Ezri Konsa, who rose above Soyuncu, before the centreback headed into the bottom corner and past the pantomime villain Schmeichel. A brace for Konsa!
Marvelous Nakamba was given a yellow for a late challenge on James Maddison in the 55th minute.
Ollie Watkins thought he’d stretched Aston Villa’s lead further in the 58th as he found himself with a defender and Schmeichel to beat, and beat both. He was, however, adjudged to have fouled Jonny Evans in getting into that position, and the game was pulled back after a lengthy wait for a whistle.
In the 65th minute, Jamie Vardy replaced Ademola Lookman as Leicester looked for a way back into the game. Patson Daka moved out to the right, while Vardy would lead the line for the away side.
Watkins had another opportunity in the 67th minute, and should have probably put the game to bed – but Schmeichel was quick off his line to deny the England forward. Five minutes later, and Jacob Ramsey missed a sitter, skying an effort first time well over the bar.
Emiliano Martinez produced an outstanding, magnificent save in the 75th minute to deny Harvey Barnes his second, with the winger heading a looping effort towards the top left. Martinez, back-pedalling, managed to acrobatically tip the ball over the bar.
Steven Gerrard opted for a double change in the 77th minute, replacing Douglas Luiz and Emiliano Buendia with Carney Chukwuemeka and Morgan Sanson. Leicester made their second change of the evening at the same time, replacing Daka with Ayoze Perez.
The final change of the evening for Aston Villa came in the 84th minute, as Axel Tuanzebe replaced Jacob Ramsey. Kelechi Iheanacho entered the fray in the 86th, Leicester’s final change, replacing midfielder Dewsbury-Hall.
There were four minutes of added time at the end of the 90. Despite Schmeichel’s efforts to win the game via a corner, there was no comeback for Leicester – and Aston Villa picked up a deserved three points.