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Crystal Palace 1 Aston Villa 2 - Report

Steven Gerrard's winning start as Aston Villa boss continued, as he managed his new side to a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park.

Aston Villa's John McGinn (left) celebrates scoring their side's second goal
Aston Villa's John McGinn (left) celebrates scoring their side's second goal

Matt Targett got Villa going in the first half, as the visitors pounced on Palace's inability to defend set pieces, firing home via an Ashley Young corner.

But in a game featuring two of the Premier League's greatest midfielders in either dugout - it was a goal befitting both former players which sealed three points for Villa.

It was John McGinn who would get it, curling home after a sumptuous move before Villa were made to sweat in the final minutes after Marc Guehi's late consolation.

Report

Steven Gerrard made two changes from the side that ran out winners against Brighton, calling upon Ashley Young in place of Danny Ings, whilst Leon Bailey took Emiliano Buendia's place on the right flank. That allowed Ollie Watkins to take his place in the central role which saw him find the back of the net in the boss's first game in charge.

Villa started right where they left off from their late show against Brighton, and cause Palace early concern after winning a free kick within shooting distance, only for Leon Bailey to blast into the wall.

But that early pressure was a sign of things to come over the course of the first half, with Villa not necessarily dominating the possession, but certainly staking claim to the majority of the chances over the first half.

Palace did threaten in the first 20 minutes with a rare Wilfried Zaha burst, with the forward escaping Tyrone Mings and Matty Cash before dragging wide.

After that, it was mainly Villa asking all of the questions - and Palace were left with no answer for a familiar one this season, via a corner kick.

Aston Villa's Matt Targett celebrates scoring their side's first goal

The Eagles have struggled defending set pieces throughout this campaign, and it was through that route that Villa found the opener, with Young delivering all the way through to Targett, who fired through several bodies to hand Gerrard's side a lead they deserved through the first 45 minutes.

Watkins wouldn't have been delighted with referee Michael Salisbury, who denied the striker two penalty shouts as Villa continued to threaten the final third. The first saw Watkins tumble over Luka Milivojevic, which seemed more like a simple coming together, whilst the second seemed more legitimate - after he went down having clashed with Cheikou Kouyate.

It wasn't only through set pieces that Villa threatened though, with McGinn coming closest to adding a second after some brilliant link-up with Watkins on the right flank led to the Scot curling marginally wide with Guaita well beaten.

Villa might have had a sniff of a second in first half stoppage time, with Palace playing themselves into bother after McGinn hit a deflected cross into the box which Guaita inexplicably allowed to run across goal with Watkins lurking, only for it to run out of play.

The second half started with Palace once again taking a lion's share of the ball, but without really testing Villa's back line.

Martinez might have been worried about the prospect of a free kick from a threatening distance after Zaha was felled by Nakamba, but it actually led to one of Villa's better opportunities in the opening stages of the half.

Playing their free kick short, Villa won the ball from Palace and immediately countered before Watkins was brought down by Milivojevic, from which Young fired marginally over the bar.

Despite that, the visitors weren't finding the same fluency as they did over the first half, and Gerrard looked to address with the the introduction of Douglas Luiz following his return to fitness.

The Brazilian soon found himself in hot water after the referee showed him a red card after a coming together with Kouyate, only for VAR to intervene and reverse the decision, instead booking the midfielder.

Palace continued to dominate possession, and tested Emi Martinez twice in quick succession, first with Christian Benteke trying an extravagant volley, and then through Odsonne Eduoard - both of which were comfortable for the shot stopper.

However, it was Villa who'd find the back of the net again through a sumptuous passage of play.

Aston Villa's Matty Cash (centre) battles for the ball with Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (left) and Cheikhou Kouyate

Playing on the counter, Luiz fed Targett on the left flank, who played in Anwar El Ghazi, exchanging passes with Emi Buendia before teeing up McGinn to curl in a wonderful strike to seal the points.

Marc Guehi tapped home to provide a nervy finale for Villa, but the visitors held out to continue their winning run under the new boss.

Teams:

Aston Villa: Emi Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Matt Targett; Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey (Douglas Luiz 66); Ashley Young (Emiliano Buendia 85), Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey (Anwar El Ghazi 77).

Subs not used: Jed Steer, Morgan Sanson, Axel Tuanzebe, Danny Ings, Kortney Hause, Carney Chukwuemeka.

Crystal Palace: Vicente Guaita; Joel Ward, James Tomkins, Marc Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell; Cheikhou Kouyate, Luka Milivojevic (Eze 59), Conor Gallagher; Michael Olise, Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha (Odsonne Eduoard 71).

Subs not used: Jack Butland, Jordan Ayew, Will Hughes, Jeffrey Schlupp, Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Kelly, Jairo Riedewald.

Attendance: 25,203

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