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West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa

GALLERY: West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa 📸 Dean’s Debrief: Villa boss on securing Premier League survival
West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa secured Premier League safety courtesy of a tense and dramatic 1-1 draw against West Ham United on the final day of the season.

Jack Grealish drilled the visitors ahead in the 84th minute at London Stadium only for Andriy Yarmolenko to level matters just a minute later with a long-range strike which deflected off the Villa captain and looped over Pepe Reina.

Dean Smith's battling side, who displayed spirit and heart throughout on a nerve-racking afternoon for all in claret and blue, were unsure of their fate at the full-time whistle and joined together in a team huddle on the pitch as they waited for results elsewhere.

But they could soon celebrate amid joyous scenes as the precious point was enough to see Villa finish 17th in the table and seal top-flight survival by a point from AFC Bournemouth and Watford.

The final-day draw ensured Villa finished the campaign unbeaten in four matches, overhauling a seven-point gap, and can now look forward to the 2020/21 season in the Premier League.

Frederic Guilbert replaced injured Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back as the only change to Villa’s starting XI from Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal.

Yet the visitors were handed a let-off after just 11 minutes when Michail Antonio latched on to Issa Diop’s long throughball over the top and lashed wide from 12 yards.

In response, Ally Samatta sent a header at Lukasz Fabianski before John McGinn fired wide from the edge of the penalty area.

The Hammers dominated the bulk of possession as the first half wore on, albeit without testing Reina.

And it was Villa who fashioned an opening just before half-time, Grealish’s effort saved by Fabianski after neat build-up play from McGinn and Conor Hourihane.

Smith's side started the second half on the front foot, applying early pressure, although they could not fashion an opening.

West Ham substitute Yarmolenko sent a free-kick into the side-netting just after the hour mark.

Keinan Davis replaced Samatta in the 68th minute before Hammers sub Sebastien Haller headed over from 12 yards.

Smith introduced Marvelous Nakamba and Kortney Hause with 14 minutes remaining as Villa stood firm.

Davis flashed an effort across the face of goal in the 82nd minute before Villa took the lead in dramatic fashion.

McGinn found Grealish on the edge of the area and he cut inside and drilled beyond Fabianski to spark wild scenes among players and staff in the visiting technical area.

But joy was soon replaced by nerves as Yarmolenko saw his long-range strike loop over Reina just a minute later, setting up a nail-biting finale.

Yet Villa stood firm through four minutes of injury time to secure a vital point which sealed their top-flight status. 

Villa: Reina, Guilbert (Hause 76), Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Luiz, Hourihane (Nakamba 76), Trezeguet (El Ghazi 90), Samatta (Davis 68), Grealish (c).

Subs: Nyland, Taylor, Lansbury, Jota, Vassilev.


Who’s next?

The 2020/21 Premier League season kicks off on Saturday, September 12, with fixtures confirmed over the summer.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 26th July 2020