EPL

Champions League chasing Aston Villa bounce back to beat Bournemouth

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Aston Villa’s push to secure Champions League football continued as Unai Emery’s men came from behind to beat Bournemouth 3-1 at Villa Park.

Having gone a goal down through Dominic Solanke’s 31st-minute penalty, Villa turned things around with Morgan Rogers equalising in first-half stoppage time, Moussa Diaby putting them ahead just before the hour mark and Leon Bailey subsequently adding a third in the 78th minute.

Ollie Watkins set up the finishes from Diaby and Bailey as he became the Premier League’s outright leading assist maker this season with 12, to go with the 19 goals that see him sit only one behind joint leaders Erling Haaland and Cole Palmer in the Golden Boot race.

The result, strengthening Villa’s grip on fourth place, caps an excellent few days for the midlands outfit after last Sunday’s 2-0 win at Arsenal and Thursday’s penalty shootout triumph at Lille that took them into the Europa Conference League semi-finals.

With four league games to go they are six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have two games in hand. Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth stay 13th.

A bright start from Villa saw Watkins’ shot deflect over off Illia Zabarnyi, John McGinn drive wide and Pau Torres just fail to connect with Diaby’s delivery at the far post.

Bournemouth threatened just past the quarter-hour mark when Justin Kluivert’s firm hit brought a good save out of Emiliano Martinez.

And after Diaby scuffed off-target from a good position, the visitors exerted further pressure, with shots from Dango Ouattara and Ryan Christie going wide before Milos Kerkez was brought down by Matty Cash – scorer of a vital late goal at Lille – and referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot.

Martinez had pulled off two saves in Thursday’s shootout, but was unable to produce one on this occasion as Solanke rifled past the Argentinian for his 18th league goal of the season.

Cash, looking to make swift amends, fired wide soon after, before Kluivert did the same via a deflection.

Rogers then brought the game back level just prior to the interval, latching on to fine ball from Bailey, cutting inside Adam Smith and lashing into the net.

And the hosts subsequently moved in front 12 minutes into the second half when Watkins laid the ball to Diaby and the Frenchman finished from close range.

Martinez then did well again as he parried Ouattara’s header, and after Rogers found the side netting, Bournemouth substitute Antoine Semenyo skewed into the stand.

Watkins tried his luck in the 75th minute, driving wide, and moments later he ended up as provider again as he sent the ball goalwards and Bailey was on hand to tap in for 3-1.

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    While Klopp lifted the EFL Cup in his final campaign as manager, James feels it is very difficult for Premier League teams to set any targets relating to any silverware due to the consistent dominance of City under Pep Guardiola.

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    Liverpool made it to 82 points in 2023-24, which saw them finish nine behind Man City and seven adrift of second-placed Arsenal.

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  • Jackson laments Pochettino exit as Palmer thanks departed Chelsea boss Jackson laments Pochettino exit as Palmer thanks departed Chelsea boss

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    On Tuesday, Chelsea announced Pochettino had left the club by mutual consent after just one season in charge, which ended in a sixth-place Premier League finish.

    Several pundits expressed shock at the decision, after an upturn saw Chelsea recover from a poor start to the season to clinch European qualification.  

    Only four teams – Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle United – had a better expected goals (xG) figure than Chelsea (75.3) in the Premier League in 2023-24, while only three – City, Liverpool and Arsenal – had more shots on target than the Blues (215).

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