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Aston Villa 2-0 Wolves: Moussa Diaby and Ezri Konsa goals keep Unai Emery on course for Champions League

Report and free match highlights as goals from Moussa Diaby and Ezri Konsa clinch the three points for Aston Villa with a 2-0 win over Wolves at Villa Park. Rayan Ait-Nouri had a good chance with the game goalless but Emiliano Martinez came to Villa's rescue

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers

Aston Villa retained their grip on fourth spot in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Wolves at Villa Park.

Moussa Diaby's strike from the edge of the area gave Unai Emery's side the advantage before half-time and when Ezri Konsa's cross crept in at the far post midway through the second half, there was no way back for Gary O'Neil's Wolves side.

Tottenham had snatched fourth place from Villa earlier in the day but this win, less than straightforward in the early stages, means they keep their three-point lead over Spurs. Wolves are now 10th following this blow to their own European ambitions.

Player ratings

Aston Villa:Martinez (8), Konsa (8), Diego Carlos (7), Pau (7), Moreno (5), Tielemans (7), Douglas Luiz (7), Rogers (7), Bailey (7), Watkins (6), Diaby (8).

Subs:Duran (6), Digne (6), Zaniolo (7), Iroegbunam (n/a), Kesler (n/a).

Wolves: Sa (6), Semedo (7), S Bueno (6), Kilman (6), Toti (6), Ait-Nouri (6), Doyle (6), Gomes (7), M Lemina (6), Sarabia (6), Chiwome (6).

Subs: H Bueno (6), Chirewa (5), Doherty (n/a), Traore (n/a), Fraser (n/a).

Player of the match: Moussa Diaby.

How Villa beat Wolves

Villa had the ball in the net early through Douglas Luiz only for Ollie Watkins to have been adjudged offside, but it was Wolves who started brightly in the opening 20 minutes. O'Neil's injury hit had plenty of possession and found space in the wide areas.

Rayan Ait-Nouri should have given them the lead when the ball came through to him at the far post but his attempt was too casual, allowing Emiliano Martinez to make a superb recovery save. It proved costly for Wolves because Villa were less wasteful.

Team news

  • There were two changes to the Aston Villa team that drew at West Ham with Diego Carlos replacing Clement Lenglet at the back and Moussa Diaby in for Jhon Duran in attack.
  • Wolves made one change to the team beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup with Leon Chiwome making his Premier League debut in place of fellow youngster Nathan Fraser up front.

There was warning when Youri Tielemans put Watkins through on the angle only for the striker to hit the side-netting but the opening goal from Diaby was emphatic. He blasted in from 18 yards out after Douglas Luiz found Leon Bailey with a clever free-kick.

There was still the threat of a Wolves equaliser in the early part of the second half but that fear for the Villa supporters was removed when Konsa doubled the lead. His attempted cross on the overlap eluded Jose Sa and snuck in off the far post to the joy of the crowd.

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Konsa, having made his England debut during the international break, was swamped by his team-mates. They were thrilled for him and relieved that the points were secure. Villa power on, having taken another step towards Champions League football next season.

Watkins injury is worry for Emery

"Those three points at Villa Park has been difficult," said Emery. "Against Newcastle, Manchester United and Tottenham, difficult matches, but we did not achieve a point in those matches. But we are being consistent and recovering our confidence, our way.

"Of course, it was a difficult match. We started soft in the first 20 minutes but we recovered progressively, imposing our game plan and dominating, more or less, the result. We played serious, disciplined. That is very important. It was difficult but we did it."

The only disappointment for Emery was that star striker Watkins had to be removed at half-time because he picked up an injury. The decision to remove him was a precaution but with a game against Manchester City on Wednesday there is little time to recover.

"He was feeling something in his hamstring. At the beginning, he was telling us he could carry on playing but the doctor was telling us it is better to not play with risk. We decided to stop him. We will check him tomorrow morning. Maybe it is a hamstring, hopefully not."

Asked about the Champions League, Emery replied: "Day 30. Still eight matches to play. We have to be consistent like we were, like we showed today. Until day 33 or 34, I do not want to speak about the possibility of Champions League. Now we are in and we are happy."

O'Neil pleased despite defeat

"The only thing that is disappointing is the result," said O'Neil. "I thought performance-wise there were loads of positives, even the numbers, more shots, more possession, higher xG away to Aston Villa, with the problems that we have, it was an unbelievable effort."

The problems to which O'Neil was referring were the injuries to forward players Pedro Neto, Hee-Chan Hwang and Matheus Cunha that forced teenager Leon Chiwome to lead the line at Villa Park, with fellow youngster Nathan Fraser having done the job last time out.

"It shows us that registering 19 leaves us really short. Five players injured is not a lot. Four is average and only one above the average [for a Premier League team]. The fact that a lot are in the same position has not helped. The lads are having to give an awful lot."

O'Neil noted that he "understands how difficult it is for the supporters" to endure the taunts of their West Midlands rivals but insisted that he was pleased with the display. "That performance, I can sign up for," he added. "We were the better team for half an hour."

Ait-Nouri's missed chance was a key moment in the game. "It is a goal, isn't it? Ninety-nine times out of 100 in a Premier League game, that ends in a goal. He has a big area to hit and you would back him to score. We caused them loads of problems."

Villa's win in stats

  • Aston Villa have recorded as many Premier League wins this season as they managed last season (18) - only in 1992-93 (21) have they recorded more wins in a season in the competition.
  • Wolves suffered their first Premier League defeat to Aston Villa since a 1-0 loss in December 2020, having gone unbeaten in their last six meetings, while it is their first top-flight defeat at Villa Park since December 2003.
  • Only Nottingham Forest (22) have lost more Premier League away games since the start of last season than Wolves (20), with Gary O'Neil's side losing successive such matches on the road for the first time this calendar year.
  • Since Unai Emery's first Premier League game in charge of Aston Villa (6th November 2022), no other side in the competition has more than their 20 home wins during that time (level with Liverpool and Manchester City).

What's next?

Aston Villa travel to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City on Wednesday night, with kick-off at 8.15pm. They then host Brentford next Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Wolves travel to Burnley on Tuesday night with kick-off at 7.45pm, with Gary O'Neil's side then entertaining West Ham at Molineux next Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

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