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Luton 2-3 Aston Villa: Lucas Digne's 89th-minute header clinches dramatic victory for Unai Emery's side

Match report and free highlights as Aston Villa show resolve to beat gutsy Luton at Kenilworth Road; Ollie Watkins' first-half double was wiped out by Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris but Lucas Digne's late header secured away win for Unai Emery's Champions League chasers

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Luton and Aston Villa

Unai Emery backed Ollie Watkins to make England's Euro 2024 squad after his two goals helped Aston Villa to a 3-2 win against Luton.

The 28-year-old took his tally for the season in all competitions to 21 at Kenilworth Road, first heading in from a Leon Bailey corner then finishing via a post following Douglas Luiz's quick free-kick.

It is now his best Premier League season in terms of goals scored, with 16 in the top flight as Villa have emerged as surprise contenders to qualify for the Champions League.

Gareth Southgate has less than three months to decide which forward players to take to Germany alongside captain Harry Kane, with Watkins staking a claim as a leading contender.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who missed the first five months of the season due to a gambling ban, is also in the frame.

"Every player is showing in their teams their quality, their capacity, their commitment, their performance," said Emery. "Then of course, the coach of the national team has to decide. But I think he deserves to be there."

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Aston Villa boss Unai Emery struggled to contain his emotions as Lucas Digne's late winner boosted their hopes of securing Champions League football next season

Victory on Saturday cemented Villa's place in the top four with nearest challengers Tottenham five points behind, after Lucas Digne's 89th-minute header secured a dramatic victory against Rob Edwards' relegation-threatened side.

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Earlier, two quick goals from Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris had wiped out the lead given to Villa by Watkins in the first half.

But two substitutes combined to nick it for Emery's side at the end, Moussa Diaby crossing for Digne to turn it home at the far post just as Luton seemed to be on top.

Player ratings

Luton: Kaminski (6), Mengi (6), Burke (6), Bell (5), Kabore (7), Clark (7), Barkley (7), Doughty (8), Townsend (6), Chong (8), Morris (7).

Subs: Hashioka (6), Ogbene (7), Mpanzu (n/a).

Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (6), Konsa (7), Lenglet (6), Alex Moreno (6), Bailey (7), McGinn (7), Douglas Luiz (7), Ramsey (6), Tielemans (6), Watkins (8).

Subs: Digne (6), Diaby (6), Zaniolo (n/a), Rogers (5), Iroegbunam (n/a).

Player of the match: Ollie Watkins.

How Villa won it twice

Aston Villa players celebrate Ollie Watkins' second goal against Luton Town
Image: Aston Villa players celebrate Ollie Watkins' second goal

There is a whole generation of Villa fans who have not seen their team compete at the top table of European football. But Emery has got supporters dreaming of those days returning with Villa challenging for a place in next season's Champions League.

They last competed in the competition back in 1982/83 - one season after winning the European Cup - but in the wind and rain of Bedfordshire, there were second-half warning signs their charming manager will heed to ensure that charge does not derail.

Team news

  • Woodrow, Osho, Ogbene and Sambi Lokonga came out of the Luton side that lost their last Premier League game away to Liverpool. Townsend, Kabore, Burke and Clark all started.
  • Konsa returned to partner Lenglet at the back for Aston Villa as Torres dropped to the bench in the one change from the side that beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 in the Premier League last time out.

These are exciting times under Emery, who takes his players to Amsterdam next Thursday to face Ajax in the last 16 of the Europa Conference League. That was no distraction, as Watkins put them in control by the break.

His first goal was predatory, rising to glance in Leon Bailey's corner. It was the 25th goal involvement of another highly productive season for the striker - the outright most of any player in the Premier League.

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Ollie Watkins's well-placed header gives Aston Villa lead at Luton

Watkins might have got his second sooner when clipping the post from another Bailey pass - but he didn't have to wait long to double his tally. Luton dithered as Douglas Luiz played a quick free-kick to release their chief marksman, who didn't wait for a whistle to tuck his finish into the corner.

Referee Michael Oliver subsequently blew for offside but upon consultation with VAR Peter Bankes, the goal was rightly allowed to stand. The back foot of substitute Chiedozie Ogbene, an early replacement for the injured Amari'i Bell, had played him on.

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Ollie Watkins at the double to put Aston Villa 2-0 up at Luton

Having witnessed Andros Townsend head over in first-half stoppage time, Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp said: "Luton need to make sure they get the next goal. After that, you never know what could happen, especially if they get the home fans back onside."

At this stage, it had been too easy for Villa but Luton looked reborn from the restart, enjoying 75 per cent possession inside the opening 15 minutes.

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Tahith Chong scrambles Luton back into contest

They deservedly halved the arrears when Chong was on hand to finish from close range after Matty Cash had done well to initially keep out Reece Burke's effort from a corner.

"We're in this fight. Together we're in this fight and we'll fight all the way." Those were the words of Rob Edwards in his programme notes - and in this game of two halves, that fighting spirit was now being witnessed in spades.

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Carlton Morris completes stunning Luton turnaround against Aston Villa

It was another set-piece which would be the route to Luton's leveller just six minutes later as Alfie Doughty's free-kick was steered back across goal by Morris for his eighth of the season.

The striker ought to have then done better when he met Ross Barkley's cross to head straight at Emiliano Martinez. Emery looked like he had seen a ghost as he made a quadruple change, including the substitute Morgan Rogers being substituted.

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Lucas Digne snatches Aston Villa victory over Luton at the death!

It was the first time Luton had played Villa here in the league in 32 years, and the visitors ensured they departed with all three points right at the death as one of those four replacements Diaby curled in a delicious cross for another substitute Digne to head into the ground and beyond Thomas Kaminski.

There was still time for Teden Mengi to head over another Doughty delivery deep into stoppage time but Villa survived.

Aston Villa left it late to secure the points at Luton
Image: Aston Villa left it late to secure the points at Luton

Edwards: Angriest I've felt all season

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Rob Edwards says he's bitterly disappointed following his Luton side's 3-2 loss against Aston Villa, but says there is a lot to like about his team's performance

Luton boss Rob Edwards: "As you can imagine, [the mood] is down. We don't deserve to lose based on the performance and the chances we created. It's difficult to take right now. It's probably the angriest I've been today.

"I wasn't at half-time. Everyone gets fixated with goals but I thought we had played well. Villa are a Champions League team, what do you expect, to be 2-0 up? It's hard to create chances and get behind them.

"Just because we were 2-0 down, there wasn't loads wrong. We asked them to up the intensity and found a way to get back into the game with loads of endeavour, passion and heart. It's hard to then lose it late on.

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Following Aston Villa's dramatic 3-2 win over Luton, Unai Emery says they will keep trying to compete, but insists they are not competitors until they are still in the European places in the final games of the season

"There was a lot to like about how we played against a brilliant team. We've done that before. I'll struggle to sleep tonight but I know it'll be better because of how we performed. We now need to try to shut teams out as there were a few basic things we got wrong."

On a pivotal next three games [against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest]: "I know they're right in and around us. Tonight was a chance for us to get something but every game is difficult and brings its own pressures.

"It doesn't mean we're automatically going to pick the points up and the pressure builds when you don't pick up results. We just have to attack the next game."

Player of the match - Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins has been involved in 26 goals this term
Image: Ollie Watkins has been involved in 26 goals this term

Ollie Watkins has been directly involved in 26 Premier League goals this season, the outright most of any player in the competition (16 goals, 10 assists).

Watkins has netted 16 goals in the Premier League across 2023-24, surpassing his previous highest tally in a single top-flight campaign (15 in 2022-23).

The striker has scored eight goals across his last eight Premier League games away from home. The striker has netted nine away goals in the competition this season, the joint-most such strikes in a single Premier League campaign for Aston Villa (alongside Dwight Yorke in 1997-98).

Analysis: Huge moment in Champions League race

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Ollie Watkins says his confidence is soaring under Unai Emery, and reflects on his own contributions, scoring two goals in Aston Villa's 3-2 win over Luton on Saturday evening

Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp: "It's a huge moment in this top-four race. Ollie Watkins has got to be a shoo-in for a Euro 2024 place. In the first half, Villa were fabulous. Luton couldn't get near them. They never put them under any pressure.

"Second half, it was a different story. They made a lot of changes. But that quadruple sub by Villa was a huge moment."

Sky Sports' Lee Hendrie: "When you look at Manchester City vs Manchester United on Sunday, it gives Villa that extra bit of breathing space. It's 11 points they're adrift now [of United].

"Fifth place could bring the Champions League so it's massive for the club. This just shows what this squad is all about. For the manager to celebrate the way he did, I think that meant an awful lot."

Luton endeavours rendered in vain - Opta stats

Luton Town's Tahith Chong after scoring their first goal against Aston Villa
Image: Luton Town's Tahith Chong sparked a fightback
  • Aston Villa have won three successive away Premier League games for the first time since January 2023, in what was their first three such matches under manager Unai Emery. Meanwhile, it is the first time that the Villans have recorded three consecutive away victories while netting two or more goals in the competition since November 2007.
  • Luton Town have lost each of their last three Premier League home games, while it is the first time that the Hatters have suffered three consecutive league defeats at Kenilworth Road since April 2016 as a League Two side.
  • Aston Villa have scored 59 goals in the Premier League this season, their outright second most in a single campaign in the competition after only 2007-08 (71).
  • Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins have combined for seven Premier League goals this season, more than any other duo. Meanwhile, it's the second most for a Villa duo in a single Premier League campaign, after Savo Milosevic and Dwight Yorke in 1995-96 (eight).

What's next?

Aston Villa visit Ajax in the Europa Conference League on Thursday (kick-off 5.45pm) before hosting Tottenham next Sunday for a top-four place showdown, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 1pm).

Luton travel to Crystal Palace next Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

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