Aston Villa 6-1 Brighton: Ollie Watkins hat-trick inspires hosts to a ...
Ollie Watkins' hat-trick inspired Aston Villa to a 10th consecutive home win in the Premier League with a stunning 6-1 victory over Brighton.
Unai Emery's side scored three goals in 12 first-half minutes to stun high-flying Brighton. Watkins, who has now scored in four consecutive games against the Seagulls, netted a quick-fire double (14, 21) before Pervis Estupinan's own goal (26) rounded off a perfect half for the hosts.
Brighton, who have now conceded in 11 straight Premier League games, threatened a comeback as Ansu Fati grabbed his first goal for the club (50) early in the second half after a lengthy and controversial VAR check for offside.How the teams lined up | Match statsWatch free Premier League highlights
However, just when Roberto De Zerbi's side were building some momentum, Watkins's deflected strike (65) secured his hat-trick in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate before Jacob Ramsey (85) and Douglas Luiz (90+7) added late goals to seal a third straight league win for the hosts.
The win sees Villa move into fourth, level on points with Brighton, who suffered a second defeat of the season.
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On his side's impressive home record, Villa boss Emery said: "We have to feel something special at Villa Park and try to create a positive energy between us and the supporters and try to work on the pitch to connect with them.
"We want to compete the same at home and away, we will need time to build the team to be consistent but at home we feel strong with our supporters and the energy the supporters are transmitting to us, we need to keep being consistent at home."Stream the Premier League and more with NOWGet Sky Sports | Download the Sky Sports app How Aston Villa ran riot against Brighton…
Image: Aston Villa players celebrates after Ollie Watkins scores against Brighton
It was a game of cat and mouse at the start of the game with both sides looking to draw each other out as they looked to pass the ball out from the back.
There was much time on the ball for either side but Brighton, through Billy Gilmour, created the opening chance. The midfielder's clipped pass over the top found Estupinan, but the full-back's shot was straight at Emiliano Martinez.
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Cash (7), Konsa (8), Pau Torres (7), Digne (7), Luiz (7), Kamara (7), McGinn (8), Diaby (8), Zaniolo (7), Watkins (9).
Subs: Ramsey (7), Duran (n/a), Tielemans (n/a).
Brighton: Steele (5), Veltman (5), Webster (6), Dunk (6), Estupinan (4), March (6), Gilmour (7), Hinshelwood (6), Mitoma (6), Welbeck (5), Ferguson (5).
Subs: Joao Pedro (7), Fati (6), Lamptey (6), Adingra (6), Baleba (n/a).
Player of the match: Ollie Watkins.
However, Aston Villa took control, and they blew the visitors away with a thrilling 12 minutes of football.
Matty Cash's cutback picked out Watkins, who finished from close range to give Villa the lead before Joel Veltman's sloppy pass allowed Moussa Diaby to play in the England striker again, and he added a quick second with a smart finish at Jason Steele's near post.
Image: Ollie Watkins fires Aston Villa in front
Brighton had no answers with Villa looking likely to score every time they went forward and they added a third five minutes later as Diaby's shot, which was heading off target, was deflected in by Estupinan to round off a dismal half for De Zerbi's side.
De Zerbi reacted by making three changes as Estupinan, Danny Welbeck and Evan Ferguson were replaced by Joao Pedro, Fati and Tariq Lamptey, and the changes initially worked for the Seagulls.
The visitors got a goal back early in the second half with Fati tapping in from close range for his first in the Premier League. It came after a lengthy VAR check in which there were a number of incidents to check, including whether the ball went out of play, a foul on Joao Pedro in the penalty area, offside against the Brighton substitute and also offside against Fati. However, VAR did notintervene and the goal stood to give the visitors a lifeline.
Team newsAston Villa boss Unai Emery stuck with the XI that secured victory at Stamford Bridge last weekend against Chelsea. Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi made four changes from the side that beat Bournemouth last weekend. Jason Steele returned in goal, while Solly March, Kaoru Mitoma and Jack Hinshelwood, who made his first Premier League start, were included.
However, just as Brighton were looking to threaten again, John McGinn's pass picked out Watkins and the England striker's deflected finish killed off any hopes of a comeback.
Ramsey and then Luiz added the late flourish for Villa, who secured an emphatic victory to move above Brighton in the table on goal difference.
Douglas Luiz became only the second player to score in five consecutive home Premier League appearances for Aston Villa, after Dwight Yorke in December 1996.
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery:
"I'm very happy. I think we feel a very good connection with our supporters every match - today we showed it. Defensively and offensively, we're trying to keep it consistent over 90 minutes [but] these three points for the table are very important.
"Of course, when you're winning matches in a row you feel confidence, but you still have to win again and again. That's what we're trying to do.
"We needed to adapt to them, but when we had time to keep possession we did that as well. When we scored the second, third and fourth goals, we were feeling very comfortable.
"We beat Chelsea and lost here to Everton [in the Carabao Cup]. We're trying to feel more and more comfortable. The Premier League and Europe is very important for us."Watkins: Definitely not my last hat-trick
Aston Villa hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins:
"It's a great result against a top team in Brighton. They're where they are in the league because they play such good football.
"It's definitely not going to be my last [hat-trick]. It's an unbelievable feeling to score. When I don't score I'm annoyed, which is why I work hard every day in training.
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"When I've got grass in front of me, I like to run into it. Moussa [Diaby] is so quick, so on the transition I definitely think we're dangerous.
"We've got a style of play now that [allows us to] take control of the game. We've definitely got a few strings to our bow."Watkins provides another timely England reminder
Image: Ollie Watkins celebrates his second goal with his Aston Villa team-mates
Analysis from Sky Sports' Oliver Yew:
Brighton will be sick of the sight of Ollie Watkins.
Watkins' hat-trick inspired Aston Villa to an emphatic 6-1 victory over the Seagulls and the England striker has now scored six Premier League goals against Brighton, netting in each of his last four appearances against them.
In his English league career, it's now the outright most goals he's scored against a single opponent, overtaking the five he has against Liverpool.
The England manager was there, so that will cheer him up. He works really hard for the team which sometimes goes unnoticed. Today was the complete performance.
The 27-year-old now has seven goals in all competitions this season, including two hat-tricks to become the first player to score two trebles in a single season in all competitions for Aston Villa since Andy Gray in 1976/77. He's also only the second player to score more than one Premier League hat-trick overall for the club, after Christian Benteke.
Watkins' rise under Unai Emery continues but his exploits against Brighton were a timely reminder to England boss Gareth Southgate, who was in the stands at Villa Park on Saturday.
He wasn't in the Three Lions' squad for the games against Ukraine and Scotland in September, but on this showing he will surely be firmly back in the thoughts of Southgate when he names his squad for the matches against Australia and Italy in October.De Zerbi: The biggest responsibility is mine
Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi was disappointed with his side's display at Villa Park but took responsibility for the heavy defeat.
He said: "We played a very bad game, without energy, [without] mental energy. The biggest responsibility is mine because I am coach.
"We have to adapt this season. It is totally different to last season. It is very tough, we're playing every three days.
"We want to compete in every competition and we have to show if we are ready or not. When you play like today, the responsibility is with the coach.
"I have great guys, great people inside the dressing room. We reached this level [by] pushing [and] pushing, but we are not there yet. We are reaching the right level to compete this season because we want to give satisfaction to our fans."Opta stats: Villa closing in on City's PL home wins record...
Image: Jacob Ramsey celebrates after scoring Aston Villa's fifth goal
Aston Villa have now won 10 consecutive Premier League games at Villa Park since the start of March, with only Man City (13) on a longer ongoing home winning run in the competition.
This was the sixth time that Aston Villa scored three or more goals in a single match in all competitions this season, more than they managed in the whole of last season (5).
Brighton conceded six or more goals in a single top-flight match for the first time ever, and first time in any league game since a 6-0 defeat to West Ham in the Championship in April 2012.
No side currently in the Premier League are on a longer ongoing run without keeping a clean sheet in the competition than Brighton (11 games), whose last shut-out came in May of last season at Arsenal (3-0 win). The Seagulls have, though, scored in each of their last 23 league matches, their longest such scoring run since March 1965 (29 games).What's next?
It's European action for both Aston Villa and Brighton in midweek.
Villa take on Zrinjski in the Europa Conference League on Thursday; kick-off 8pm. Meanwhile, Brighton travel to France in the Europa League to face Marseille, also on Thursday; kick-off 5.45pm.
Sunday 8th October 1:00pm Kick off 2:00pm
In the Premier League, Villa's next match is a trip to Wolves on Sunday October 8; kick-off 2pm, while Brighton host Liverpool, also on Sunday October 8, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 2pm).