Aston Villa claimed an impressive 1-0 victory over Leeds United on Saturday afternoon, delivering a solid rearguard display to fend off the hosts at Elland Road.
The Villans took the lead inside five minutes when Anwar El Ghazi was on hand to control Ollie Watkins’ drilled effort goal, before he steered the ball smartly beyond Illan Meslier.
They were the better side for the remainder of the first half, but Leeds dominated possession after the action got back underway – launching a barrage of crosses and dangerous balls into the Villa penalty area.
But the visitors stood strong and repelled everything that Marcelo Bielsa’s men threw their way, with Emiliano Martinez again impressing in Villa’s goal. The Whites huffed and puffed without truly threatening the Argentine’s clean sheet, leaving the away side to walk away from Yorkshire with a deserved three points.
Here’s a look at the player ratings.
IIllan Meslier (GK) – 6/10 – Potentially could have closed down El Ghazi quicker for the decisive goal but showed his quality in denying the Dutchman soon after.
Luke Ayling (RB) – 7/10 – Attempted a cheeky Cantona style chip from the edge of the box. Unfortunately, he’s Luke Ayling. Still, did what he does well, occupying dangerous positions and always looking to work a crossing opportunity.
Diego Llorente (CB) – 7/10 – Left visibly irritated by Watkins’ attempts to ‘help him up’ when sprawled on the floor. Did well to match the forward for pace when charging towards goal on a couple of occasions. Overall, a very impressive display from the Spaniard.
Liam Cooper (CB) – 6/10 – At fault for Villa’s winner, hanging deeper than his teammates and playing El Ghazi onside. Not one to lack spirit, however, and recovered to turn in a better performance.
Stuart Dallas (LB) – 6/10 – Allowed El Ghazi to sneak in on the left side of the penalty area and couldn’t get across to him in time. Moved into midfield in the second half to add some more energy.
Pascal Struijk (CM) – 5/10 – Didn’t seem particularly comfortable in midfield, and made Kalvin Phillips’ absence more painfully obvious than ever. Subbed just after half-time.
Mateusz Klich (CM) – 6/10 – Sloppy in possession, handing the ball back to Villa with some overly-ambitious switches. Booked for stopping El Ghazi in full flight.
Tyler Roberts (CM) – 6/10 – Not playing in his favoured position, and it showed. Couldn’t affect the game in any way as it completely passed him by. Lucky to escape with only a yellow card after a clash with Targett.
Helder Costa (RW) – 6/10 – Drilled a well-worked corner routine towards goal, but saw his shot blocked. Bullied by Targett and subbed off just after an hour.
Patrick Bamford (ST) – 6/10 – Extremely isolated in the first half, and couldn’t get into the game with the imperious Mings hot on his heels. Second half wasn’t much better, either.
Raphinha (LW) – 7/10 – Couldn’t wave his magic wand over proceedings in the first half, as Villa snuffed out his threat as soon as he picked up the ball. More dangerous in the second, but not enough to change the game.
Ezgjan Alioski (LB) – 6/10
Jack Harrison (LW) – 6/10
Pablo Hernandez (CM) – 7/10
Emi Martinez (GK) – 7/10 – Made a smart early save and continued to keep with authority, claiming a string of crosses with confidence.
Ahmed Elmohamady (RB) – 7/10 – Drafted in to replace Cash and did an excellent job in nullifying Raphinha in the first half.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 8/10 – Dug in and defended very well, keeping Bamford at bay and helping to set Villa in motion up the pitch. An inspiring figure at the back.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 8/10 – Didn’t give Bamford a sniff in the first half, matching him physically and across the turf. Came close with a header but directed his effort over the bar via a deflection. Superb.
Matt Targett (LB) – 8/10 – Dealt well with any threats, having to keep an eye on the marauding Ayling. Fed Traore in front of him and always looked to get up in support.
John McGinn (CM) – 8/10 – A bright spark with plenty of grit in the middle of the park. Linked up nicely with the front three, threading the ball over the top to his willing runners. Scrapped for his life in the centre.
Marvelous Nakamba (CM) – 8/10 – Brought bags of energy to the midfield, matching Leeds’ running and desire to win the ball. Exactly what you need against a Bielsa side.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – 7/10 – Put his body on the line to deny Costa’s goal-bound effort. Incredibly pacy, and used his speed to good effect, dashing to close down Leeds’ midfield.
Anwar El Ghazi (RW) – 8/10 – Took his chance when handed it, controlling smartly and tucking away his finish with great composure. Caused all sorts of problems with his direct running.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – 7/10 – Supplied the winner – whether through luck or judgement – but showed plenty of determination to force the opportunity. A proper pest and a thorn in Leeds’ side.
Bertrand Traore (LW) – 7/10 – Struggled in the physical battles against Ayling, who was up for the fight. Followed up moments of genius with daft passes or loose touches. There’s a brilliant player in there somewhere.
Morgan Sanson (CM) – 6/10
Trezeguet (LW) – N/A