Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins ended his goal by drought to put pressure on beleaguered Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce.
Watkins broke the deadlock with his first goal in 10 games before Bertrand Traore completed the half-time points and left Newcastle without a 10-game win in which they scored just four goals.
While the visitors were huffing and chugging, there was a clear divide in the class and Toon fans, already calling for Bruce’s head, will be alarmed that they are now only seven points above the relegation zone and have played a match more than Fulham. in 18th place.
Aston Villa climbed to eighth place in the Premier League after beating Newcastle
Ollie Watkins penalized a mistake by Fabian Schar to lead the hosts in Villa Park to the lead
Bertrand Traore made two of them with a delicious finish that went in from the bottom of the bar
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez 7; Cash 7, Konza 6, Mings 6, Targett 8; Luiz 6, Nakamba 6; Traore 7 (El Ghazi 80), Barkley 6.5 (Trezeguet 80), Grealish 7 (Ramsey 88); Watkins 7.5
Subs not used: Heaton, Taylor, English, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Davis
Goals: Watkins 13, Traore 42
Newcastle (5-3-2)Darlow 5.5; Manquillo 6 (Fraser 71 6), Hayden 6.5, Schar 5.5, Lascelles 6, Lewis 5.5; Hendrick 6, Shelvey 6, Almiron 6.5 (Gayle 81); Carroll 6 (Saint-Maximin 71 6), Wilson 5.5
Subs not used: Dubravka, Matthew Longstaff, Joelinton, Ritchie, Krafth, Murphy
Booked: Dab, Lascelles, Carroll
Referee: Simon Hooper 6.5
Newcastle arrived at Villa Park against a stormy backdrop quite common during owner Mike Ashley’s time at the club.
After a run without points and goals, Bruce began calling his predecessor the ‘mighty Rafa Benitez’ in a sarcastic reaction to an unfavorable comparison to the Spaniard.
The 60-year-old counts Aston Villa among his many former clubs and there was gratifying news that Alain Saint-Maximin was fit for the bench, having been sidelined with Covid since November.
In his starting line-up, Bruce opted to play with fullbacks, allowing Andy Carroll and Callum Wilson to pair up front.
This match was originally scheduled for early December when Newcastle was forced to close their training ground and it was also the first home game Villa hosted in 2021 after their own virus outbreak.
Unfortunately for manager Dean Smith, he was limited to watching from the stands after complaining too vehemently about an offside decision during last week’s defeat at Manchester City. Also on high esteem was their suspended midfielder John McGinn.
The first shots on goal were traded by Miguel Almiron and Matt Targett, as both sides started on purpose before Villa got the upper hand.
Targett then shot over the target and Watkins narrowly failed to put in the finishing touch.
Minute 13 turned out to be lucky for the Villa striker. Targett was again given too much space on the left, breaking away from Jonjo Shelvey and shooting his center towards Watkins from Fabian Schar’s outstretched leg as the defender attempted to intercept.
While Toon goalkeeper Karl Darlow hesitated for a moment before coming out to claim, Watkins bravely headed a firm header for his first goal since scoring at Arsenal on November 8.
Although he was ahead of Schar when the cross was given, the goal was legitimate as he was not in front of the ball itself and fell in an offside position when the Newcastle defender hit the ball.
Jack Grealish was heavily involved in both goals and now has eight assists this season
Watkins could have had a second, but his low drive was ruled out by VAR for offside
Newcastle’s effort in response to the setback was unquestionable, the players making a shift for their underpressure manager, but Villa always had more options in possession with Jack Grealish on the strings and both fullbacks came forward.
Newcastle’s biggest threat was aerial and at 31 minutes Emiliano Martinez had to rally from Carroll after the big forward won a header and then went for the rebound when the loose ball bounced off Tyrone Mings.
The Aston Villa tannoy played party music when Watkins buried a pass from Grealish in the lower corner after 34 minutes, but the joy was cut short when the attacker was considered offside.
Watkins’ header after Schars slice ended a run of nine league games without a goal
Striker Traore’s goal was the fourth time he has scored in his last six Premier League games
They didn’t have to wait long for the real thing to make it 2-0. Grealish’s corner was half beaten by Darlow, but when the ball returned to the England international’s feet via Bertrand Traore, he played the ball back into the forward of Burkina Faso.
Traore finished with a cute side-foot from 12 yards for his fourth goal in six games, leaving Newcastle to complain to no avail that Darlow was stunted as he drove away.
Villa almost started the second half as if they ended the first with Darlow blocking Watkins’ shot with his legs and Douglas Luiz sending the rebound wide.
Newcastle complained to Simon Hooper after Traore’s goal, believing Karl Darlow had made a mistake
On the other hand, striker Callum Wilson had little to eat for the visiting team
Newcastle seemed to lack ideas in addition to pollution. Carroll entered the book because he got to the ball late and cut out Marvelous Nakamba. Jamal Lascelles quickly followed with yellow to stop Luiz’s point.
Barkley then tried the outrageous, a backheel volley that went over the bar before Bruce made his first changes and gave Saint-Maximin his long-awaited return after 70 minutes. Ryan Fraser also joined the case and Carroll and Javier Manquillo gave way.
It was good to see Saint-Maximin back on the field after suffering particularly badly from the virus, but it wasn’t a fairytale return as Newcastle had to endure another full-time whistle without scoring.
The Magpies did not get back into the game, increasing the pressure on boss Steve Bruce
The only good news for the visitors was the return of Allan Saint-Maximin after 11 games
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