In a game largely dominated by one side, Aston Villa, it was a spectacle for the home crowd. From the opening whistle, Villa dominated possession in the opening half, controlling the whole game. They enjoyed 68% possession and most of the opening forty-five minutes was played in Newcastle’s defensive half.
DeAndre Yedlin gifted a perfect opportunity for Villa to capitalise on their domination by foolishly fouling Jack Grealish just outside the box in the 31st minute. Douglas Luiz, Jack Grealish and Conor Hourihane all stepped up to the task to take the free-kick. It was taken like a training ground routine, as Hourihane curled the ball around the wall and Newcastle’s ‘keeper Dubravka to put the home side ahead. Villa Park erupted.
The momentum was well and truly in the home side’s favour. Aston Villa made sure they used this to their advantage. With Magpies unsettled, Villa began to pounce on their lack of confidence. Five minutes later Jack Grealish again, pulling all the strings, pushed forward only to be brought down by an unthoughtful tackle by Federico Fernandez. Who was shown a yellow. This time goal scorer Hourihane turned provided and sent in a sumptuous ball into the six-yard box, eluding all defenders, El Ghazi tapped it in to double their lead.
Newcastle were poor throughout the whole half and the defence looked increasingly shaky. The half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough. With the away side only creating one major chance in the half which came late on through Ciaran Clark on a corner. Which Tom Heaton dealt with assuringly.
After the break, the away side did pick up for the initially five minutes. Hoping to catch Villa on the lapse. Allan Saint-Maximillan tested Tom Heaton from range with the Villa ‘keeper lucky to get the bottom of his glove on the ball to divert it around the post. This was where the attacking threat ended for Newcastle. Villa settled again into their game plan and created chances frequently.
Ezri Konsa nearly opened his account on the 52nd minute from a corner. Left unmarked with a header that tested Dubravka’s low left-hand side. Jack Grealish who conducted the second half proceedings had a handful of chances himself.
Newcastle made some desperate changes with forwards Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle coming on in hope to bring some life into the lacklustre side. Carroll, at the 68th-minute mark, chested down a great cross by Yedlin but fired the ball straight at the Villa goalkeeper.
Villa should have made it three-nil when Grealish released Hourihane down the left who crossed it across the ground to the oncoming Wesley who fired the ball right at Martin Dubravka from six yards out. The Brazilian missing his only clear cut chance for the match.
Overall, Villa lengthened their lead away from the relegation zone, moving to 15th and seven points above the drop. Newcastle sit just above them by one point in 14th. Next up in the Premier League, Newcastle travel home to host Manchester City in which they will need to improve their performance dramatically. Villa also travel north to Manchester, to play United in which turns out to be a very interesting mid-table battle.