Aston Villa vs Bournemouth. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Douglas Luiz scores early in the first half to see Aston Villa in front; Jacob Ramsey and Emiliano Buendia add late goals to secure Premier League win; Bournemouth unable to capitalise on Liverpool win and remain in relegation zone
Saturday 18 March 2023 19:46, UK
Aston Villa extended their unbeaten Premier League run to four games as they beat Bournemouth 3-0, who remain deep in relegation trouble.
Unai Emery's side set the tone early on at Villa Park when Douglas Luiz slotted home inside seven minutes. But Bournemouth reacted well and gave Aston Villa an equal test for much of the game.
They came closest just after the hour when Emiliano Martinez made a superb, diving save to keep out Philip Billing's thunderous free-kick.
But perhaps their brightest moment in the game was the return of David Brooks to competitive action after his battle with cancer. Almost a year after announcing he was cancer-free in May 2022, he came on for Jack Stephens in the 79th minute for his first appearance in 18 months.
Bournemouth manager Gary O'Neil said of Brooks after the game: "Delighted for him. The reception he got was fantastic and deservedly so. He's been through a lot and worked extremely hard to get to this point.
"We need to be sensible with his minutes, but he'll get another couple of weeks now of good work. Hopefully he'll get a few more minutes with the U21s in the week and he'll be available for longer next time."
But Bournemouth capitulated in the final 15 minutes of the game as Villa scored twice more. Some tenacious play from Jacob Ramsey (80) saw him fire home the hosts' second, before Emi Buendia (89) rounded things off with his fifth goal of the season.
The victory briefly moved Aston Villa above Chelsea, but after the Blues' dramatic late draw with Everton, they went back above Villa on goal difference. They are now level on 38 points. Bournemouth were unable to capitalise on their win against Liverpool last weekend, and slip into 19th place after Leeds' win against Wolves.
Aston Villa took advantage of their early pressure as they went ahead inside seven minutes. Ollie Watkins' attempted shot pinged along the top of the area, finding Leon Bailey on the right. He then fired the ball into the middle - Marcos Senesi's outstretched foot unable to stop it - with Luiz there to slot home
But Bournemouth reacted well and had a plethora of chances. The first was almost a gift from John McGinn as his sloppy back pass was almost latched on to by Jaidon Anthony. Billing then nodded wide, while Dominic Solanke also saw a bended effort palmed away by Martinez.
Aston Villa also continued to look dangerous going forward. Just before the half an hour, Watkins was played through the middle by a lovely Buendia pass, but his attempted chip was smothered by Neto.
There was a late first-half penalty shout for Villa. After a well-worked short corner, Ramsey's thunderous shot from range appeared to hit Stephens on the hand before going wide. VAR took a lengthy look at the incident, but did not award a penalty.
Aston Villa began the second half well again and had a few half chances - but Bournemouth were denied an equaliser just after the hour. Billing sent a sensational free kick over the wall, but Martinez made a stunning, leaping save to his right to keep out the effort.
But Aston Villa's quality soon began to shine through as Ramsey doubled their lead late on. It stemmed from a deep Luiz free kick, with Watkins cushioning header into his teammate's path. Ramsey then easily drove past Stephens before his shot deflected home via Neto's back.
Villa began to dominate and - after a goal was ruled out after the ball had already run out of play - added their third in the 89th minute. Luiz again was the instigator, from a corner this time, which was headed on slightly by Tyrone Mings. Buendia was waiting just behind to send the ball past the goalkeeper. There was a brief VAR check, but the goal rightly stood.
A brilliant afternoon from the midfielder. Aston Villa looked slick and dangerous going forward, and he was the main instigator.
Of course, he scored the opening goal in the middle of a period of Aston Villa domination, and should really be credited with assists for the other two goals as well.
Both goals were sparked by his set-piece delivery and his importance to this victory cannot be understated as his resurgence under Emery continues.
Luiz has been directly involved in six goals in 14 appearances in the Premier League this season under the Spaniard (2 goals, 4 assists), having provided one goal and one assist in his 12 games this season under Steven Gerrard and Aaron Danks.
Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (7), Konsa (7), Mings (7), Moreno (7), McGinn (7), Luiz (8), Bailey (7), Buendia (7), Ramsey (7), Watkins (7).
Subs used: Traore (6), Chambers (n/a), Duran).
Bournemouth: Neto (7), Smith (7), Stephens (5), Senesi (6), Kelly (6), Ouattara (6), Rothwell (5), Lerma (6), Anthony (7), Billing (7), Solanke (7).
Subs used: Traore (5), Semenyo (6), Brooks (6), Moore (n/a), Vina (n/a).
Player of the match: Douglas Luiz.
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery:
"We played very well in 90 minutes. They had their moments as well and we were struggling sometimes in the first half after our goal and the best 20 minutes we've played since I arrived here.
"The result at the end was thinking that we can be completely safe from the teams in the bottom there now. With the next step, we can look up to the teams that are in front of us in the top 10.
"It is important that we are starting well with a good move, try to control the game and taking chances at scoring, which we did quickly. Then as well, we struggled a little bit, we didn't control some runs to our defence with Solanke.
"In the second half, we were feeling better and at the end we scored two more. It is a very good step today with three points, how we played in some moments, trying to be consistent in our game play.
"With our style, we are slowly being consistent, being better and that is the way.
"The last two matches against Crystal Palace and today, they are the best two matches we've played here in the style I want to create."
On the first-half penalty not given: "It is very clear... It's incredible how they didn't give us this penalty, but the VAR is for helping them [the referees]. It is difficult to take a fault with VAR because it is clear. I don't understand why they didn't watch VAR because, for me, it was very clear and 100 per cent a penalty."
Bournemouth manager Gary O'Neil:
"I thought it was in the balance for a long time. We didn't start well enough, we were too slow out of the blocks and we didn't look like ourselves for the first 10 minutes and Villa punished us for that.
"From 1-0, we wrestled our way back into it, created some good chances, had some situations where we could have done better. Near the end, we open it up a little bit with more attacking players on the pitch. It goes against us and the scoreline makes it looks worse than it was.
"There was an opportunity today at 1-0 to get ourselves back in it, but we weren't clinical enough.
"If we take one and do what we should have done and been clinical, then the game could have looked very different.
"They're a very good side. It's not an easy place to come, it's a tough game at Aston Villa. One-nil and fighting to come back into it, we were fine at that point. If we could have shown a little bit of quality in the final third, it could have been very different.
"We're disappointed today. We can be better than that."
After the international break, Aston Villa will return to action live on Sky Sports as they travel to Chelsea on Saturday April 1; kick-off 5.30pm. Bournemouth play on the same day, hosting Fulham at the Vitality Stadium; kick-off 3pm.