Match: Aston Villa v Newcastle
Competition: Premier League
Date: Monday 25th November 2019
Venue: Villa Park
Hourihane 32, El Ghazi 36
Heaton, Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, Hourihane (Lansbury 90), McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley. Unused subs: Nyland, Hause, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Kodija, Elmohamady.
Story in brief
Conor Hourihane and Anwar El Ghazi were on target in the space of four first-half minutes to give Villa a confidence-boosting victory and end a run of three Premier League defeats.
Dean Smith's men produced crisp, flowing football which was almost rewarded when Douglas Luiz unleashed a rising drive which was brilliantly tipped over by Martin Dubravka.
But that merely delayed the inevitable, and the home side were deservedly ahead with a well-worked free-kick after Jack Grealish had been shoved just outside of the penalty area.
Hourihane touched it to Grealish before curling a superb left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
The lead was doubled after Grealish had again been brought down. Hourihane whipped in the resulting free-kick hard and low from the left, and El Ghazi arrived to drive it into the roof of the net from close range.
Conor Hourihane was restored to the Villa line-up in favour of Marvelous Nakamba, and the decision paid off handsomely for Dean Smith.
With Grealish, Luiz and the Irishman all keen to strike a free-kick on the edge of the box, it was Hourihane who stepped up.
And the home fans were grateful he did as he sent a curling left-footed strike around the wall and past the stranded Martin Dubravka.
The 28-year-old’s influence didn’t end there, however, as minutes later his set piece delivery left Anwar El Ghazi with a tap-in to make it 2-0.
From one to 11, Villa were far superior to the Magpies.
The returning Tom Heaton made a couple of crucial saves to deny the visitors, while Konsa and Mings marshalled the back four superbly.
In midfield, Villa's work-rate and creativity kept the ball away from Newcastle's playmakers while making sure they were hassled in possession.
Jack Grealish returned after missing the defeat at Molineux, and his influence was there for all to see.
The homegrown star glided past black and white shirts, picking apart the Newcastle defence.
His return to the team was a welcome sight for every Villa fan, particularly with a tough run of games coming up.
Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge await for Villa as the team hit the road to take on Manchester United on 1st December and Chelsea three days later.
Smith’s side return to Villa Park on 8th December to face Leicester City.