Aston Villa 3-1 Bournemouth: Come-from-behind win keeps Villa’s top-four bid on track


Moussa Diaby scores against Bournemouth
Aston Villa have won 20 Premier League games in a single season for the first time since 1992-93

Aston Villa came from behind to beat Bournemouth and keep their bid for a top-four finish and Champions League football on track.

Just three days after booking their place in the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League with a penalty shootout win against Lille, Villa had to refocus as they push for their highest Premier League finish in 28 years.

It did not begin well, though, as Bournemouth were handed the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot when Matty Cash brought down Milos Kerkez, and top-scorer Dominic Solanke made no mistake from 12 yards.

But Villa remained positive and got their reward on the stroke of half-time when January signing Morgan Rogers fired into the roof of the net.

Despite playing 120 minutes in Europe on Thursday, Villa showed no signs of fatigue and actually seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Winger Moussa Diaby put Villa in front in the 57th minute to cap a lovely team move before Leon Bailey gave the hosts breathing space 20 minutes later.

Villa stay fourth and have opened up a six-point gap to Tottenham in fifth, although Spurs have two games in hand, while Bournemouth are 13th.

What a difference a week makes

It has been a celebratory seven days for Aston Villa, after the month started with just one point from two league outings.

Last Sunday they beat Premier League title hopefuls Arsenal, on Thursday they saw off Lille on penalties to reach a first major European semi-final since 1982 and it was another routine performance at Villa Park to stay in the driving seat for a top-four berth.

Villa were calm and composed from the outset, controlling possession and making steady progress up the field, although they struggled to create any meaningful openings.

It was not until Rogers’ equaliser as the first half ticked into injury-time that Villa registered a shot on target.

Rogers has settled well at Villa Park since signing for £8m from Middlesbrough in January and he grabbed his second league goal for the club in very mature fashion, coolly evading the challenge of Adam Smith before carefully picking his spot high above the head of goalkeeper Neto.

Villa settled into their groove as the second half began, with Ollie Watkins attempting two shots at goal but he was the provider, teeing up Diaby, to get the hosts in front.

Unai Emery’s side continued to press for a third and their endeavour paid off in the 78th minute when Watkins, who leads the way for assists in the Premier League with 12, broke into the area, squared the ball and Bailey had a simple finish.

Speaking to BBC Match of the Day after the game, Emery said: “Big effort because fifth place is not Champions League, because English teams lost it. We have to get fourth. We have to be demanding and prepare as well as perform.

“We have to be focused more than before because we thought fifth was Champions League, but now it is not. Tottenham have two games in hand and then of course we have to be in Conference League [semi-finals].”

Emery was referring to the fact that England’s hopes of securing a fifth Champions League spot are all but over – with exits for four of the five remaining English clubs in European competitions this week leaving them trailing Italy and Germany in Uefa’s coefficient rankings.

Bad day at the office for Bournemouth

Despite being without the ball for long periods in the first half, Bournemouth were efficient when they did get possession.

Justin Kluivert tested Emiliano Martinez with a stinging effort from the edge of the box, before Dango Ouattara threatened the Argentina international’s goal when he met a cross at the far post – but the angle was too acute and he could only find the side-netting.

Bournemouth’s penalty was as clear-cut as it comes, with Cash wrong-footed by a turning Kerkez, and Solanke fired beyond Martinez with the confidence of a man who now has 18 league goals to his name.

Shortly after Villa had taken the lead Ouattara was denied from point-blank range by Martinez, in a moment that could have turned the game back in Bournemouth’s favour.

Substitute Enes Unal had the ball in the back of the net for the visitors, after Bailey had given Villa a two-goal cushion, but that was swiftly ruled out for offside.

It may not have been an enjoyable trip to the Midlands for the south coast club but their season, which has five games left to run, could still end on a positive note.

Bournemouth are just five points shy of achieving a club record tally in the Premier League, despite failing to win any of their opening nine games under Andoni Iraola.

Speaking to BBC Match of the Day about Bournemouth’s desire to set a new club record for points in the Premier League, Iraola said: “That’s what we are trying to do. We have a really difficult schedule to end the season. We have to be at our best. Have to keep focus, intensity. You cannot make mistakes against these types of teams.”

Player of the match

WatkinsOllie Watkins

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  2. Squad number3Player nameDiego Carlos

  3. Squad number29Player nameKesler-Hayden

  4. Squad number27Player nameRogers

  5. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  6. Squad number24Player nameDurán

  7. Squad number31Player nameBailey

  8. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  9. Squad number14Player nameP Torres

  10. Squad number8Player nameTielemans

  11. Squad number1Player nameE Martínez

  12. Squad number19Player nameDiaby

  13. Squad number12Player nameDigne

  14. Squad number2Player nameCash

AFC Bournemouth

  1. Squad number9Player nameSolanke

  2. Squad number10Player nameChristie

  3. Squad number19Player nameKluivert

  4. Squad number4Player nameL Cook

  5. Squad number27Player nameZabarnyi

  6. Squad number3Player nameKerkez

  7. Squad number5Player nameKelly

  8. Squad number15Player nameA Smith

  9. Squad number25Player nameSenesi

  10. Squad number11Player nameOuattara

  11. Squad number1Player nameNeto

  12. Squad number24Player nameSemenyo

  13. Squad number14Player nameScott

  14. Squad number37Player nameAarons

  15. Squad number29Player nameBilling

  16. Squad number26Player nameÜnal

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1E Martínez
  • 2CashBooked at 87minsSubstituted forKesler-Haydenat 90+5′minutes
  • 4Konsa
  • 14P Torres
  • 12Digne
  • 7McGinn
  • 8Tielemans
  • 31BaileySubstituted forDiego Carlosat 87′minutes
  • 19DiabySubstituted forDuránat 90+3′minutes
  • 27Rogers
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 3Diego Carlos
  • 16Chambers
  • 17Lenglet
  • 24Durán
  • 25Olsen
  • 29Kesler-Hayden
  • 47Iroegbunam
  • 69Munroe
  • 71Kellyman

Bournemouth

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Neto
  • 15A SmithBooked at 21minsSubstituted forAaronsat 45′minutes
  • 27ZabarnyiBooked at 55mins
  • 25SenesiBooked at 37minsSubstituted forSemenyoat 63′minutes
  • 5Kelly
  • 4L Cook
  • 10ChristieSubstituted forScottat 76′minutes
  • 11OuattaraSubstituted forÜnalat 82′minutes
  • 19KluivertSubstituted forBillingat 76′minutes
  • 3Kerkez
  • 9Solanke

Substitutes

  • 14Scott
  • 23Hill
  • 24Semenyo
  • 26Ünal
  • 29Billing
  • 37Aarons
  • 42Travers
  • 46McKenna
  • 50Dacosta Gonzalez

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