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Dean Smith: Aston Villa must continue to apply 'scoreboard pressure' on relegation rivals

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Dean Smith urged Villa to kick-on and put “scoreboard pressure” on their rivals in the Premier League relegation scrap following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith gestures on the touchline

Trezeguet scored both goals as Villa earned their first top flight win in 11 attempts to keep alive hopes of beating the drop.

Smith’s men are now back to within four points of safety and travel to Everton on Thursday before West Ham and Watford, the teams immediately above them in the table, play each other on Friday.

The boss said: “The analogy I used with the players is today was this was our first semi-final. We can’t control results elsewhere, just our performances.

“We needed to win it to get through to the second leg, if we go and win at Everton, another tough game, we can certainly put scoreboard pressure on the teams above us.”

Villa’s victory was their first in the Premier League since January 21 and Smith continued: “It was a much needed win. It’s been a while coming. I thought our performance deserved it.

“They probably started better but after five minutes I thought we got into the game and created some opportunities.

“The last 10 minutes of the first-half I thought they had their best period and we probably scored against the run of play.

“The second half performance was really pleasing, we kept our foot on the gas and were aggressive and created a number of chances.

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“Trezeguet has performed really well over the last two matches and deserved his place in the team.

“It has taken a while but I thought he has looked a threat. He had the chance against Manchester United and went and got the two goals today. His attitude is spot on, he works his socks off and he deserved the goals.”

The match was not short on controversy. Palace saw Mamadou Sakho’s seventh minute opener chalked off by VAR after the ball appeared to go in off the defender’s shoulder.

Video official Jon Moss also reversed referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to award Villa a second half penalty when Jack Grealish tumbled in a challenge with Patrick van Aanholt.

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Former Villa striker Christian Benteke was then shown a red card after the final whistle for kicking out at Ezri Konsa.

Asked about the VAR decisions, Smith replied: “I’ll probably get blamed for bias on both. I thought the linesman got away with the first one. I didn’t think it was a free-kick.

“Then it has hit the lad right on the corner of the arm and shoulder. The letter of the law, we have seen how harsh it has been. It has touched part of his arm and has to be disallowed.

“The second one is more confusing. I think Jack has gone down easily but there is contact.

“Once it goes to VAR for me there is a cloud of controversy. It has to be clear and obvious to overturn the referees decision. I am confused where we go with clear and obvious now.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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