Dean Smith: Aston Villa players made statement in victory over Derby
Dean Smith believes Villa’s players delivered him a statement after producing their best performance of the season so far to stun Derby.
John McGinn, Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane all netted in the final 16 minutes as Villa recorded a 3-0 win at Pride Park, ending the in-form Rams six-game unbeaten run.
It was Villa’s second successive victory and their first away success since the opening day of the campaign, while they also kept a clean sheet on their travels for the first time this term.
Smith said: “This was a statement to me from the players, really. I have seen where their standards are now and I can judge them on those standards.
“I still don’t think they understand how good they can be. When they do they can go and put on a really good run of results.
“This is only one game today, two wins on the spin and our first away win since the start of the season.
“I told the players before we were not coming to Derby to get a point. We were coming for all three.”
He continued: “There is a lot more to come from this squad. I said to them yesterday and today there was an opportunity to draw a line in the sand, to show where we are at.”
After a first-half in which both teams had chances to break the deadlock, Villa took control in the second half, though they had to be patient before McGinn finally made the breakthrough, heading home substitute Yannick Bolasie’s cross.
The Scot then turned creator as Abraham doubled the advantage, with Hourihane capping an excellent afternoon with a 25-yard free-kick.
Both Abraham and Jonathan Kodjia had earlier missed good chances to put Villa ahead.
But Smith said: “I never doubted we would score. I just felt we would create other chances.
“I saw before the game a belief in the players. Sometimes that bit of confidence is all that is needed. We showed that today.
“I would not say it is a relief. It is something we have been working toward and will continue to work towards.
“The quality in the squad is there for all to see. All they have done today is taken what they have done on the training ground into a match.”