Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton: Villains record their biggest win under Steven Gerrard as Danny Ings nets against his former club to complete thrilling rout
- Aston Villa romp to their biggest win under Steven Gerrard against Southampton
- Goals from Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz put Villa in control in the first half
- Philippe Coutinho added a third goal seven minutes after the break at Villa Park
- Danny Ings scored against his former club to wrap up the win two minutes later
Danny Ings showed why Aston Villa paid Southampton £25million for him last summer with a display that silenced the taunts of his former supporters.
The forward has struggled to find top form at Villa Park but this was the day it all clicked, as Ings created two of Villa’s first three goals and scored the fourth himself.
In comfortably Villa’s best performance since Steven Gerrard took over as manager last November, Philippe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins, John McGinn and Matty Cash also shone, as Saints were left stunned.
Ollie Watkins netted for the second game in a row as he broke the deadlock after nine minutes
ASTON VILLA (4-3-1-2): Martinez 7; Cash 8, Chambers 8, Mings 7, Young 7; McGinn 8, Luiz 7, Ramsey 7 (Bailey 78); Coutinho 8 (Buendia 81); Watkins 8, Ings 8 (Sanson 71, 6).
Subs (not used): Olsen, Traore, Hause, Chrisene, Iroegbunam, O’Reilly.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-2-2): Forster 7; Livramento 5, Bednarek 5, Stephens 4, Perraud 4 (Walker-Peters 58, 6); Ward-Prowse 5, Romeu 5 (Diallo 77); S Armstrong 6, Elyounoussi 4 (Valery 46, 5); Adams 5, Broja 5.
Subs (not used): Caballero, A Armstrong, Redmond, Djenepo, Smallbone, Walcott.
Referee: P Bankes (Lancashire)
After losing only one of their previous 15 matches in all competitions, this result came from nowhere. When Coutinho was substituted with the game won, his return to the bench turned into a lap of honour – in just two months, these supporters have learned to adore him and the feeling seems mutual.
Watkins gave Villa an early lead and Douglas Luiz added the second shortly before the break, when Saints were lucky to be only 2-0 down. But Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team did not heed the warning, as Coutinho and Ings doubled the advantage within nine minutes of the restart.
Even though they were without Ezri Konsa and Lucas Digne due to Covid-19, Villa did not miss a beat as they registered back-to-back wins under Gerrard – the first time they have done so since the victories over Brighton and Crystal Palace at the start of his tenure.
Villa had suffered consecutive defeats to Newcastle and Watford before bouncing back by beating Brighton last weekend, yet Southampton still came into this game as favourites thanks to their excellent recent form
Ings was facing Saints for the first time since his move and the barracking from the visiting fans was as loud as it was predictable – but the forward helped silence them after only nine minutes.
Ings clever through-ball found Watkins, who spun expertly away from Jack Stephens before finding the net via the fingertips of Fraser Forster.
Though Saints had shown little in the opening 15 minutes they came close to levelling when Armando Broja seized on a mix-up between Tyrone Mings and Ashley Young and set up Stuart Armstrong for a curling effort that went narrowly wide.
Douglas Luiz doubled Villa’s advantage with a straightforward finish in the centre of the box
Back came Villa. Jacob Ramsey headed McGinn’s corner wide when he should have left it for Ings, and Watkins was freed by Philippe Coutinho only to fire against the feet of Forster – when a simple return pass would have given the Brazilian a tap-in.
Che Adams might have punished Villa immediately when he rose to meet Tino Livramento’s right-wing cross only to direct it too high. As half-time approached, Romain Perraud fired wide from 25 yards for the visitors.
Shortly before the interval, however, Southampton’s defence fell apart. Coutinho went close after Cash’s cross fell kindly for him inside the box, and then the on-loan Barcelona star shot straight at Forster from six yards following superb work from Watkins, who had danced away from Livramento and crossed.
Philippe Coutinho made it three as he pounced on a loose ball and hammered it into the net
Coutinho quickly made amends by latching on to Calum Chambers’ brilliant lofted pass and rolling it into the path of Luiz, who supplied a simple finish.
Remarkably, there was still time for Coutinho to miss another chance as he ran on to Watkins’ flick-on and drew Forster but guided his finish past the post.
Villa began the second half as they had ended the second and quickly went 3-0 up. When Luiz’s shot was blocked, McGinn reached the loose ball first and outmuscled Broja before finding Ings.
Ings’ touch presented the ball to Coutinho, who spun away from James Ward-Prowse and found the net via a deflection off Jan Bednarek – his third Villa goal.
Danny Ings wrapped up the victory for Steven Gerrard’s side by scoring against his former club
Number four arrived when Cash made yet another charge down the right and his cross was cleverly guided beyond Forster by Ings, who declined to celebrate despite an afternoon of stick from the Saints supporters.
Nothing could spoil Villa’s day. How the home crowd loved it when former Birmingham forward Adams blasted a close-range effort at Martinez when he really should have found the net.
The challenge now for Gerrard is to build on this. Having invested the better part of £500million, owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens will expect plenty more days like these next season.