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Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace

GALLERY: Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace 📸 Grealish: We weren't going to settle for anything less than a win
Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace

Trezeguet bagged a brace to fire Aston Villa to a crucial 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in an action-packed encounter at Villa Park. 

The Egypt international made the all-important breakthrough deep into first-half injury time when he arrived at the back post to convert a whipped free-kick from the impressive Conor Hourihane.

And he doubled his tally in the 59th minute, poking through the legs of Vicente Guaita, to seal three big points in Villa's bid to climb the Premier League table and away from danger.

Trezeguet's double, taking his tally to six goals in all competitions this season, secured a first victory since the resumption of Premier League football under Project Restart.

VAR was again at the centre of the action, as was the case in Villa's defeat to Manchester United on Thursday night, as Mamadou Sakho saw an early header ruled out for handball while Jack Grealish also had a second-half penalty decision reversed.

A keenly-contested clash saw further drama after the full-time whistle as Christian Benteke was shown a red card following a post-match altercation with Ezri Konsa.

Villa's first victory since January ends an 11-match winless sequence and moves them on to 30 points, four points from safety with three matches remaining.

Hourihane and Ahmed Elmohamady returned to Villa's starting line-up as part of two changes, with the latter replacing Kortney Hause ahead of kick-off after the defender, initially named in the XI, was withdrawn due to a suspected injury in the pre-match warm-up.

Villa were handed a scare with just seven minutes on the clock as Sakho headed home Luka Milivojevic’s free-kick from close range but it was subsequently ruled out by VAR for handball.

An evenly-balanced first half saw both sides look to gain the upper hand but it was the hosts who created the first clear-cut openings as it wore on.

Elmohamady was at the heart of both with his inch-perfect deliveries from the right, Samatta first to head over from 10 yards after 31 minutes before captain Grealish volleyed straight at Guaita from the back post soon afterwards.

Villa were dealt another injury blow as Neil Taylor was forced to hobble off, replaced by fit-again Matt Targett.

It was the visitors who looked to finish the opening period the stronger of the two sides, Pepe Reina called upon to make smart saves to deny Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.

But Villa made the crucial breakthrough in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Hourihane’s free-kick was inadvertently flicked on by Palace’s Joel Ward and Trezeguet was on hand to volley home at the far post from close range.

Yet there was still time for Reina to make another fine first-half save to deny Benteke and protect Villa’s advantage heading into the break.

VAR was again called upon just minutes after the restart as Villa saw a penalty decision reversed, initially awarded after Patrick van Aanholt was adjudged to have fouled Grealish.

Hourihane saw a goalbound free-kick well saved by Guaita before the Eagles goalkeeper made another super save to keep out Konsa from close range.

But the home side were not to be denied just before the hour mark as Scott Dann's clearance was headed back goalwards by Hourihane and Trezeguet was alert to pick up the loose ball and poke through the legs of Guaita.

Smith's side were in full flow and Hourihane was once more denied by the Palace stopper, before Reina produced a crucial save in the 75th minute to deny Van Aanholt when he was clean through at the other end.

An end-to-end encounter saw both sides threaten in the latter stages but Villa held firm to claim a huge victory in their battle for top-flight survival, with Benteke dismissed for the visitors after the full-time whistle.

Villa: Reina, Taylor (Targett 37), Hause, Konsa, Elmohamady, Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane (Nakamba 80), Grealish (c), Samatta (Davis 80), Trezeguet (El Ghazi 88).

Subs: Nyland, Guilbert, Lansbury, Jota.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 12th July 2020