EPL

Ollie Watkins scores hat-trick as rampant Aston Villa hit Brighton for six

By Sports Desk September 30, 2023

Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick as Aston Villa recorded a 10th successive Premier League home win with a 6-1 thumping of Brighton.

Watkins netted a first-half brace and Pervis Estupinan put through his own net as Villa scored three goals in the space of 13 minutes before the interval to blow Brighton away.

Striker Watkins completed his hat-trick in the second half and set up substitute Jacob Ramsey for the home side’s fifth goal after Ansu Fati had briefly reduced the deficit before Douglas Luiz completed the scoring deep into added time.

Victory for Unai Emery’s side extended their winning run to three matches, while Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton were denied the chance to go joint top of the table following their heaviest defeat under the Italian since he took charge in September last year.

Brighton spurned a glorious early chance to take lead when Billy Gilmour played a delightful ball into Estupinan, only for Emiliano Martinez to make a crucial save.

And that miss would prove costly as Villa broke the deadlock in the 14th when Watkins finished from close range after John McGinn’s superb pass released Matty Cash down the right.

The home side doubled their lead after 21 minutes as Watkins somehow squeezed the ball past Jason Steele at his near post after latching on to Moussa Diaby’s through-ball down the left-hand side of the area.

Moments later, Villa went close to another as Diaby’s drilled cross from the left was flicked to safety by the boot of Steele.

The hosts continued to pile forward and looked to have put the game to bed after 26 minutes when Diaby’s shot deflected in off Estupinan as the defender ran back towards his own goal, Steele having denied the Villa man moments earlier.

Following a dismal first-half performance, Brighton boss De Zerbi made a triple substitution at half-time as Fati, Joao Pedro and Tariq Lamptey all entered the fray.

The Albion boss was quickly rewarded as Barcelona loanee Fati reduced the deficit after 50 minutes with a close-range finish after Pedro had just kept the ball in play, with the goal awarded following a lengthy VAR check for offside.

However, Villa dashed any thoughts of a fightback after 65 minutes when McGinn’s pass found Watkins on the edge of the area and the striker’s shot deflected in off Adam Webster, with the ball looping over Seagulls keeper Steele.

Albion almost scored a second goal in the final 10 minutes as substitute Simon Adingra’s dipping shot was magnificently tipped over the crossbar by Martinez.

However, Villa scored their fifth after 85 minutes when substitute Ramsey curled a fine effort in off the right-hand post from the edge of the area from Watkins’ pass.

And there was still time for Villa to add to Brighton’s misery as Luiz rolled the ball into an empty net seven minutes into added time after Steele had denied Watkins when one-on-one to round off a superb display from Emery’s men.

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    New York Red Bulls – Cameron Harper

    Harper scored New York's lone goal in their last match, his third straight match with a goal. He is the first Red Bulls player to score in three straight regular-season matches since Patryk Klimala in 2021, and the last Red Bulls player to score in four straight league games was Bradley Wright-Phillips in July-August 2017.

    Charlotte – Kristijan Kahlina

    Charlotte have kept clean sheets in five consecutive regular-season matches, the only team to do so in MLS this season. The only team since 2008 to keep a clean sheet in six straight games within a single regular season was New York City FC in May 2022, and Kahlina will be looking to equal that record.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK RED BULLS WIN

    The Red Bulls have lost only one of their six all-time meetings with Charlotte in all competitions, a 2-0 road defeat in June 2022. New York have won three of their four home matches against Charlotte (D1), scoring multiple goals in each match, including a 5-2 win in last year's playoffs.

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    Meanwhile, Charlotte won 1-0 at Chicago in their last away match after a seven-match winless run on the road in all competitions. Charlotte have never recorded back-to-back away wins in all competitions before.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    New York Red Bulls – 53%

    Draw – 23.9%

    Charlotte – 23.1%

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