Villa U19 2-0 PSV U19: Drennan and Burke fire young guns to victory
Villa significantly boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the NextGen Series with a classy display against PSV Eindhoven.
Goals from Graham Burke and Michael Drennan ensured a victory that lifts Tony McAndrew's team up to second place in Group 4 in the prestigious European U19 competition.
It leaves the boys in claret and blue with a good chance of reaching the last 16 - either as group runners-up or as one of the best third place teams.
But there will be plenty riding on the decisive fixture against group leaders Sporting CP in Lisbon on Wednesday November 28.
Villa made two changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Celtic last month with Burke and Josh Barton coming in for Charlie Ward and Brad Lewis.
It meant Burke - a two-goal hero in a memorable NextGen Series win over Rosenborg last term - was reunited with fellow Irishman Drennan in attack.
And the strike duo brought this clash to life on 20 minutes with a fine move to put the home team ahead.
Drennan showed great strength to hold off a defender and slide through a perfect pass which Burke raced on to before neatly dinking the ball over goalkeeper Jesse Bertrams.
Villa were already in the ascendancy with Jack Grealish forcing Bertrams to tip his delightful curling effort around the post.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages but didn't threaten Craig Hill's goal until the 33rd minute.
Zakaria Bakkali just missed the target with a well-struck free-kick.
Moments later he fired straight at Hill after showing quick feet to weave past two defenders just inside the penalty area.
It was one-way traffic after the break and Drennan had an angled left-foot pushed around the post early in the second period.
Just before the hour mark, Burke unlocked the PSV defence with a raking through ball which found Samir Carruthers but the former Arsenal schoolboy dragged his effort wide of the post.
When Bertrams blocked Drennan's close range effort and Burke miscued a volley, it looked as though the claret and blues would be in for an anxious finale.
But Drennan eased any tension with superb solo strike six minutes from time.
The Kilkenny-born marksman started his run on the left flank and skipped past PSV skipper Menno Koch.
He surged towards goal before slotting past Bertrams into the bottom corner.
VILLA: Hill, Barton, Bateman, Lyden, Devine, Watkins-Clark, Graham, Carruthers, Drennan, Burke, Grealish. Subs: Ward, Melvin [for Carruthers, 90], Crowley, O'Brien, Toner, Calder, Zazrivec.
PSV: Bertrams, Brenet, Koch, Hendrix, Heesakkers, Horsten, Overbeek, Mahmoed, Alberto, Vloet, Bakkali. Subs: Van Vlerken, De Wijs [for Heesakkers, 82], Noor, Leemans [for Mahmoed, 65], Verrips, Jakobsen [for Vloet, 82], Sanoh [for Alberto, 65].