Aston Villa and Leeds finished a fierce game at Villa Park level, with both sides giving their all out on the pitch.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Following the Winter Break, Aston Villa returned to action this evening – facing off against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United at Villa Park.
Within the opening two minutes, Villa Park was on its feet. Tyrone Mings connected with an early corner into the near post, where he headed towards goal. Meslier was quick to palm the ball out for another corner, which came to nothing.
In the ninth minute, however, it was Leeds who would take the lead. Tyrone Mings had his pocket picked of the ball by Rodrigo, who played the ball into Dan James. James put the ball onto his right foot, before firing the ball between Konsa’s legs and into the bottom left corner of the net.
In the 25th, Mings came close again. A corner was swung in by Lucas Digne and was met by the Aston Villa captain – but his header whizzed just wide of the post.
Just a few minutes later, and Dan James came close again himself – almost like it was a one-up game between him and Mings. The Leeds forward struck the crossbar with an effort from outside of the box.
In the 29th minute, in the blink of an eye, Aston Villa had equalised. A quick one-two off a throw in saw Matty Cash stab a ball into the box. It fell to Philippe Coutinho, who readied himself off-balance and fired into the bottom left corner with his right foot.
Nine minutes later, and Aston Villa were ahead. Coutinho turned his man on the halfway line, before sliding a long-range pass through to the on-rushing Jacob Ramsey. Ramsey still had a lot to do, but fired into the bottom right and past Meslier. The marquee and the home-made man combining once again.
With two minutes remaining in the half, the pair combined again! Coutinho and Watkins broke – with Watkins breaking the Leeds defence with his run – leaving space for Jacob Ramsey to run onto Coutinho’s pass and into space. He fired emphatically into the top right corner.
In added time, Dan James picked up another for Leeds. Five goals in the first half. The forward jumped for a high, floating ball at the back post, which was fumbled into the back of the net.
Lucas Digne could have extended the lead for Villa once more before the half ended. The full-back attempted to poke home a ball with the outside of his left foot – but didn’t connect properly as the ball was fired wide.
The opening ten minutes of the second half were lively – but it looked to be Aston Villa who were starting the latter half of the game the strongest.
The 58th minute saw the first chance of the evening, as Emiliano Buendia picked up a knock following a challenge from Dan James. The midfielder was replaced by Carney Chukwuemeka.
Just after the hour mark, Tyrone Mings produced an excellent goal-line block to deny Leeds an equaliser, before clearing his lines. However, the ball came back, and went out for a corner. The corner, this time, resulted in a goal. It deflected onto Mings, who tried to clear it. The ball found its way to Diego Llorente, who poked home to tie the scores.
Aston Villa’s second change came in the 78th minute, as Ashley Young replaced Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian left the field with a goal and two assists under his belt.
Ezri Konsa was sent off in the 88th minute, receiving his second yellow card of the game for elbowing Meslier who was trying to spark a Leeds counter attack. This lead to Calum Chambers’ debut in claret and blue, as the defender came on to replace Jacob Ramsey. Matty Cash was booked for a strong challenge on Raphinha just a minute later.
There were 8 minutes of added time at the end of the 90.
Much of the added time was Leeds – but Aston Villa held firm and finished the game with a final attack that came to nothing.