Matt Targett and John McGinn scored to keep up Steven Gerrard's perfect start at Aston Villa as they ended Crystal Palace's seven-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
Villa displayed their defensive solidity under their new manager again to follow up last weekend's 2-0 win over Brighton, and did not concede a single shot on target until the final 10 minutes against an under-par Palace side whose performance was labelled "really disappointing" by boss Patrick Vieira.
They took advantage of the hosts' dreadful record from set-pieces to take an early lead after 15 minutes, with Targett's finish from Ashley Young's delivery the eighth goal the Eagles have conceded from corners this season - a Premier League high.
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Ollie Watkins was denied what appeared a strong shout for a penalty shortly before half-time but there was better news from the officials for Villa in the second period, when Douglas Luiz was initially shown a red card by referee Michael Salisbury before reviewing his decision on the VAR monitor and rescinding the dismissal.
They had their new manager smiling again as McGinn, later described by Gerrard as "outstanding", netted a wonderful first-time effort from 20 yards to wrap up victory, and, despite Marc Guehi's injury-time consolation for the hosts, back-to-back wins have lifted Villa to 11th in the table, behind Palace only on goal difference.
Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Ward (5), Guehi (6), Tomkins (6), Mitchell (5), Kouyate (5), Gallagher (5), Milivojevic (4), Olise (5), Benteke (6), Zaha (5).
Subs: Eze (6), Edouard (5), Ayew (n/a).
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Cash (7), Konsa (6), Mings (7), Targett (7), McGinn (8), Nakamba (6), Jacob Ramsey (6), Bailey (6), Watkins (6), Young (7).
Subs: Luiz (6), El Ghazi (7), Buendia (n/a).
Man of the match: John McGinn
Villa show quality to earn rare away win
Palace came into the game looking to match their longest ever unbeaten Premier League run, but looked more like a team searching for form given the dominance of the visitors, who had lost five of their six games on the road this season.
But under Gerrard, Villa look a different beast already. They flew out of the traps and looked energetic from the first whistle, before taking full advantage of Palace's Achilles' Heel as Targett fired home his first Premier League goal for more than two years from Ashley Young's corner.
Villa continued to look the more promising side despite a lack of goalmouth action at either end in an otherwise scrappy first half, which barely improved as a spectacle after the break.
The new manager would have been more than happy with stifling Palace given the visitors' wretched form on the road, an achievement which would have been tougher had Luiz's red card, awarded within five minutes after coming on, not been rightly overturned by VAR.
Christian Benteke finally gave Emi Martinez some work to do with 10 minutes to go as his acrobatic effort stung the goalkeeper's palms, before substitute Odsonne Edouard called the Argentine into action again from Conor Gallagher's square ball.
With Palace enjoying their best spell of the game, Villa's second goal from McGinn could not have come at a better time. Taking Anwar El Ghazi's pass inside he bent a pinpoint effort inside Vicente Guaita's near post before celebrating in front of the Palace fans in the Whitehorse Lane Stand.
The visitors gave themselves a slight blot on their copy book when Guehi stabbed home from close-range in the final minute of injury time for his second goal in as many games, but a huge three points, to lift them seven points above the relegation zone, were already wrapped up.
What the managers said...
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira: "I'm really disappointed with the result, but more by the performance. Today we didn't play well enough, we didn't move the ball quick enough or defend it well enough as a team.
"The consequence is to not get anything from the game, and it's a frustration how we concede the first goal."
Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard: "Both our goals were worked extremely well. Our first-half performance was excellent, in a lot of departments we were top.
"We knew we'd have to roll our sleeves up and fight after half-time, they made it difficult for us but we had more chances to go and score more goals."
Man of the match - John McGinn
McGinn is flourishing under Gerrard, and providing a decent imitation of his new manager's playing career so far.
The goal he scored was reminiscent of the gaffer's Liverpool days, albeit on his left foot, while out of possession there were similarities too, with his seven tackles across the 90 minutes two more than anyone else on the pitch.
Opta stats: Villa cast aside Palace's bogey-team tag
- Aston Villa have won four of their last six Premier League clashes with Crystal Palace (L2), one more victory than they enjoyed in their previous 13 against the south Londoners (W3 D5 L5).
- Crystal Palace suffered their first defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), since a 3-0 away defeat to Liverpool in September.
- Crystal Palace have conceded eight goals from corners in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Steven Gerrard is only the second manager to win his first two Premier League games in charge of Aston Villa, after John Gregory in February/March 1998.
- Matt Targett's opener for Aston Villa was his first Premier League goal in 75 appearances in the competition, since the full-back netted against Brighton on October 19th 2019, 770 days ago.
- Ashley Young has now provided more assists for Aston Villa than any other player in Premier League history (42, one ahead of Gareth Barry) while he is the oldest Villan to provide assists in consecutive appearances in the competition (36y 141d).
Crystal Palace are at Leeds on Tuesday night in the Premier League at 8.15pm, while Aston Villa host Man City on Wednesday at 8.15pm. Free highlights from both games will be available on the Sky Sports website, App and YouTube channel.
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