Aston Villa left latest drama panting in fiery Brighton clash


Danny Welbeck returned to center stage with a vital goal as Brighton edged Aston Villa in a spirited 2-1 victory at Villa Park.

The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker struck to give the visitors a half-time lead ahead Aston Villa equalized at the start of the second period thanks to Ezri Konsa.

Solly March quickly restored Brighton’s advantage with a fine curling effort and Graham Potter’s side held on comfortably at the end for a 2-1 victory.

However, they were forced to sweat during added time as Tariq Lamptey was sent off for two challenges to reserve on John McGinn and then Jack Grealish.

Lamptey hadn’t even taken a seat on the bench before Villa received a penalty after Trezeguet fell in March. However, referee Michael Oliver overturned his decision after being asked to consult with VAR.

Villa have now lost all three home games since Premier League champions Liverpool’s outright 7-2 defeat in early October.

Unsurprisingly, Dean Smith has named an unchanged squad after winning so impressively at Arsenal ahead of the international break. However, the Villa boss was forced to change his plans after just five minutes when Ross Barkley was injured.

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The midfielder appeared to tweak a hamstring while taking a free kick and he was replaced by Bertrand Traore.

Smith is hoping that’s not a serious issue as Barkley would be a big miss for Villa, having impressed since coming on loan from Chelsea.

Things got worse for the hosts as they fell behind after 12 minutes. The goal was against the course of the game but it was worked well by Brighton. Pascal Gross and Adam Lallana combined to regain possession in their own half, before the latter delivered Welbeck with a neat ball.

Welbeck still had a long way to go, carrying the ball half the length of the pitch before keeping his cool to calmly lift his shot on former Arsenal teammate Emiliano Martinez with a smart finish.

Villa should have equalized quickly, but Aaron Webster refused Trezeguet with a heroic clearance from the goal line before the Egyptian somehow blocked the rebound off the crossbar at seven yards.

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When Trezeguet hit the target in the middle of the first half, this time with an effort just outside the box, Mathew Ryan behaved well to make the save.

Martinez was quickly out to thwart Neal Maupay when he was put on goal by Welbeck as Brighton looked to extend their lead.

Villa finished the first half strong. Ryan made an unorthodox save on his goal line to fend off a Tyrone Mings header, before Ben White made a goal block to deny Ollie Watkins.

The hosts kept their momentum going after the break and were rightly at the same level early in the second half. Traore put a shiny ball into the box with a free kick and Konsa, timing his run to perfection, slid to bring the ball home with an outstretched foot.

The match was over and Brighton restored their advantage after 56 minutes. Gross changed play on the left flank, selecting March with a sweep pass. March then completed a nice shot past Martinez and into the far corner of the net.

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The frantic pace seemed to have caught up with the players midway through the second half as the tempo slowed down a bit. Villa was starting to look tired and devoid of ideas, while Brighton was also a bit leggy and in no rush to get onto the pitch.

When they did, via a counterattack in the 78th minute, Maupay, breathless trying to get past a cross from Gross, led the ball broadly.

Brighton comfortably protected their lead, but everything threatened to go wrong in the finals. Lamptey was sent off in added time after collecting two yellow cards in quick succession.

Villa then received a penalty, although reruns suggest Mars could have played enough of the ball. Referee Oliver thought so after glancing at the field monitor and overturning his initial decision, much to the fury of the Villa Smith boss.


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