Match: Aston Villa v Everton
Date: Friday 23rd August 2019
Venue: Villa Park
Wesley (21), El Ghazi (90)
Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor, Luiz, McGinn, Grealish, Trezeguet (Elmohamady 86), Jota (El Ghazi 77), Wesley. Unused subs: Steer, Konsa, Davis, Lansbury, Hourihane.
Story in brief
It was like Wembley all over again as the claret and blue faithful celebrated Villa’s first Premier League victory of the season.
Sweet Caroline boomed out from all sides of Villa Park to reflect the jubilation of a hard-earned win against Everton – just as it had after the Play-Off final in May.
Brazilian striker Wesley opened the scoring with his first goal for the club, and sub Anwar El Ghazi clinched all three points in stoppage time.
Wesley’s goal was a classic. Jack Grealish took a quick free-kick just inside the Villa half and debut boy Frederic Guilbert moved the ball on to Jota, who threaded a superb pass into Wesley’s path.
The striker was a picture of composure as he never broke his stride to stroke a low right-foot shot beyond Jordan Pickford and into the far corner.
Everton squandered several chances to draw level in the second half and also hit the post, but the issue was settled by a brilliant goal on the break.
Wesley charged through the middle before laying the ball off to John McGinn. The Scot’s pass seemed to be intended for Grealish but El Ghazi appeared from nowhere to burst into the danger zone and slot a low shot past Pickford.
The wonder of Wesley
The members of the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel, who founded our club in 1874, could never have envisaged that 145 years later we would be saluting a player called Wesley.
The club record Brazilian striker didn't find the scoresheet in our first two matches, but this time out he underlined why Dean Smith rates him so highly.
Apart from scoring the first goal and being involved in the second, the former Club Brugge marksman was a perfect target man as he shielded the ball from close-marking opponents and laid off intelligent passes to team-mates.
He was also close to netting a second goal when his shot was blocked by Yerry Mina just three minutes after his breakthrough goal.
Frederic Guilbert and Jota will have been itching to shine after making the claret and blue starting line-up - and they did just that!
Guilbert and Jota both looked mightily impressive in front of an appreciative crowd.
The Frenchman made some timely challenges, displayed excellent distribution – and was also involved in the first goal.
The Spaniard's pass for that opener was a thing of beauty - here's to many more assists!
Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once quipped that football is more important than life and death.
But the rivalry between Villa and Everton supporters was put aside after 12 minutes as they united for applause in tribute to a Toffees fan.
It was for young Evertonian Rhys Jones, who was tragically killed 12 years ago.
In the Premier League, Villa head to south London next Saturday, 31st August, to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (3pm).
Before that, it's Crewe in the Carabao Cup, with a 7.45pm kick-off at Gresty Road on Tuesday, 27th August.