Report and free match highlights as Anwar El Ghazi brace, Bertrand Traore strike and Jake Livermore’s first-half dismissal condemn Sam Allardyce to defeat in first game in charge of West Brom; Aston Villa seal fifth away win of the season to climb to ninth in the Premier League
Sunday 20 December 2020 21:49, UK
Sam Allardyce suffered defeat in his first game in charge of West Brom as Aston Villa took full advantage of Jake Livermore’s red card to secure a 3-0 victory at The Hawthorns.
Anwar El Ghazi poked Villa ahead with five minutes on the clock and the Baggies were left with a mountain to climb before the break when captain Livermore had a yellow card for a lunge on Jack Grealish upgraded to red following a VAR review.
West Brom showed great spirit in the second half to stay in the game as long as they did, but Villa’s numerical advantage eventually told as Bertrand Traore’s classy strike and El Ghazi’s second from the penalty spot wrapped up a comfortable derby win.
The victory – Villa’s fifth on the road this season – lifts Dean Smith’s men up to ninth in the Premier League, while a ninth defeat of the season leaves West Brom second bottom and Allardyce with work to do.
West Brom: Johnstone (7), Furlong (5), Ajayi (6), O’Shea (6), Gibbs (6), Livermore (4), Gallagher (6), Sawyers (5), Phillips (6), Diangana (5), Grant (5).
Subs: Austin (5), Ivanovic (5), Robinson (n/a).
Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (7), Mings (8), Hause (8), Targett (8), El Ghazi (8), McGinn (7), Luiz (7), Grealish (8), Traore (8), Watkins (6).
Man of the Match: Anwar El Ghazi.
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How Villa gate-crashed Big Sam’s big night
Allardyce had lost just one of his seven opening matches in charge of a Premier League club but his eighth couldn’t have got off to a worse start.
It took just five minutes for Villa to hit the front, with El Ghazi peeling away from Darnell Furlong at the back post to reach Bertrand Traore’s before squeezing a shot home at Sam Johnstone’s near post.
Villa enjoyed a measure of control throughout, with Traore and the returning Matty Cash running riot down the right flank, and things soon took a turn for the worse for the Baggies.
Captain Livermore lunged in on Grealish on touchline, went over the ball and caught his Villa counterpart high on the shin. The challenge initially yielded a yellow card from referee Atkinson but, after being instructed to consult the pitchside monitor, it was upgraded to red.
West Brom were aggrieved Kortney Hause didn’t suffer the same fate for a late, over-the-top challenge on Grady Diangana four minutes later, but the Villa defender’s challenge was adjudged to have been reckless but crucially lacked the excessive force of Livermore’s.
Villa put their man advantage to good use in the second half, applying constant pressure on the West Brom goal, pressure which should have told on 51 minutes, but John McGinn headed a gilt-edged opportunity wide after Grealish’s drive and cutback from the byline.
Ollie Watkins drew Johnstone into action with a rasping near-post drive on the hour, and when he did beat the impressive Baggies goalkeeper on 72 minutes, he was found to have been offside when Matty Cash sent the cross in he converted.
Johnstone single-handedly kept Villa at bay, brilliantly tipping El Ghazi’s near-post drive behind for a corner, but he was helpless six minutes from time when Traore delicately rolled the ball into the bottom corner at the end of a solo run to put Villa out of sight.
El Ghazi got another chance to double his tally when Semi Ajayi bundled Grealish over in the area three minutes from time and the Dutchman made no mistake from 12 yards with a drilled effort down the middle to put the seal on an impressive Villa performance.
Opta stats – Villa flying high
- Aston Villa’s return of 22 points after 12 games is their best in the Premier League since the 2001-02 season, when they finished eighth (also 22 points).
- West Brom (one) have only one win or fewer 14 games into a league season for just the third time, after 1985-86 and 2004-05.
- Aston Villa defeated West Brom at the Hawthorns for the first time since September 2008, having drawn five and lost three in all competitions at the venue since then.
- West Brom boss Sam Allardyce lost his first Premier League game in charge of a side for only the second time (W5 D1), the previous occasion coming against West Brom as Sunderland manager in October 2015.
- This game saw Sam Allardyce take charge of his eighth different side in the Premier League, two more than any other manager (Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Everton & West Brom).
- Aston Villa have kept seven clean sheets in the Premier League this season, the most of any side, despite having as many as two games in hand on some teams – it’s as many as they kept in the entirety of 2019-20 in the league.
- Since the start of last season, Jake Livermore is the fourth player to receive a Premier League red card for a foul on Jack Grealish (including second yellows), the most of any player in this time.
- Anwar El Ghazi has scored in back-to-back away league games for Aston Villa (three goals) – he only scored in two of his first 34 league appearances for the club on the road before this (three goals)
What the managers said…
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce told BT Sport: “Starting off and dreaming on the first goal was something I was not pleased about after four minutes, it was a simple cross, not a great cross and we were ball watching and went 1-0 down.
“We kept it tight. I was concerned whether we would keep our shape, we were trying, not that successfully, but the sending off has completely thrown it against us. That was the last thing we needed.
“If we are to go anywhere, this is the third red I believe, you cannot lose control. You don’t need to make a tackle like that, Jake Livermore is an experienced player and he has decided for whatever reason to lunge at him.
“When the VAR has to look at it, you fear the worst, I have to agree with the decision. But the Kortney Hause tackle on Grady Diangana, why has VAR not asked the referee to look at the screen? We might have got the same decision.”
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith told BT Sport: “A very good performance again, following on from the Burnley performance and the West Ham performance, when we came away with nothing. To come away and get three goals shows we’re in a good place.
“I thought Jack was fantastic. At times in the last 20 or 30 minutes he looks like he’s playing in the school yard.
“I saw it [Livermore’s sending off] in front of me and you can’t lunge – it’s unfortunate because the whistle goes just before, he’s frustrated he’s been fouled, and the red mist comes down. You can’t tackle like that.”
Man of the Match – Anwar El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi has received some stick this season for his inconsistency but the Dutchman’s return to form has coincided with Villa’s upturn. His goals at The Hawthorns saw El Ghazi score in back-to-back away league games after his late winner at Wolves – he only scored in two of his first 34 league appearances for the club on the road beforehand.
West Brom travel to champions Liverpool in the Premier League on Boxing Day at 4.30pm, while Aston Villa host Crystal Palace at the earlier time of 3pm.
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