EPL

Unai Emery hails impact of ‘fantastic’ two-goal Ollie Watkins

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Unai Emery lauded Ollie Watkins’ “fantastic” performance after the Aston Villa forward scored twice during their 2-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Watkins’ brace took his Premier League tally to 12 and Rodrigo Muniz scored his fourth in three games as the spirited Cottagers failed to find a late equaliser.

Villa boss Emery lauded the striker’s commitment as he continues his bid to be a part of Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad with England.

“He was fantastic,” Emery told a press conference.

“The best action was in the first half where he created a chance for (Youri) Tielemans.

“When he’s scoring, it’s very important for him and for us. I’m very happy with him and I believe his commitment has improved a lot. Defensively in set-pieces he is also very important, I’m very proud of him.”

Fulham came back strong in the second half through the in-form Muniz but Emiliano Martinez and Villa put on a resilient display to protect the three points.

Adama Traore came off the bench late on but Martinez bailed the visitors out with an impressive one-on-one save in second half added-time.

Emery praised the way his side kept composure when reacting to Fulham’s goal.

When asked if he was happy with Villa’s defensive efforts, Unai added: “Yes of course.

“It’s part of the game when you try and stop their qualities and their tactical ideas.

“We were calm at 2-0 but we made some mistakes for their goal. We reacted very well because our mentality was to not complain, keep the game plan and be strong in our structure.

“Emiliano (Martinez) saved it at the end and I think we deserved to win the match.”

Marco Silva admitted his side’s “soft” performance cost them on the day.

The Cottagers boss was disappointed with the defensive mistakes which allowed Watkins to punish Issa Diop in the lead up to his second goal.

“We cannot concede the goals that we did this afternoon,” Silva said.

“We were punished by the second goal, we were really sloppy in the way we defended that and it was a big punch to ourselves.

“It’s disappointing for us. We need to be much more aggressive and not so soft, because wen were soft.”

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