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Aston Villa 4 – 0 Brentford

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Aston Villa 4 - 0 Brentford

Aston Villa made the perfect start to life after Steven Gerrard as they beat Brentford at a buoyant Villa Park to record only their third win of the season.

Ex-Liverpool captain Gerrard was sacked on Thursday following a heavy defeat at Fulham, with first team coach Aaron Danks taking charge of Sunday’s game.

And Danks enjoyed an incredible debut in the dugout as Villa found themselves 3-0 up inside 15 minutes.

Leon Bailey got the ball rolling when he swept in from Douglas Luiz’s pass following a smart corner routine in the second minute.

Danny Ings made it 2-0 five minutes later when he stabbed in from Bailey’s cross before the striker got his second of the game in the 14th minute, converting a penalty after Tyrone Mings had been fouled.

Brentford rarely looked capable of providing a response, with their best chance of the first half an Ethan Pinnock goal-bound volley that was blocked by his team-mate, summing up the Bees’ fortunes.

Instead, the visitors were reliant on David Raya preventing Villa from adding further goals before half-time as he kept out efforts from Matty Cash and Luiz.

Brentford was marginally better after the break but could not prevent ex-Bees striker Ollie Watkins from adding a fourth when he finished from close range after his initial shot had been pushed onto the post.

The win moved Villa up to 14th in the Premier League, three points above the bottom three. Brentford, meanwhile, are 10th on 14 points.

This was an unbelievable display by a Villa team who had been struggling to score goals under Gerrard but, seemingly with the shackles off, they let loose on a stunned Brentford side.

Before Sunday, Villa were the joint-second lowest goalscorers in the Premier League this season with seven, but in just 14 minutes they scored as many goals as they managed in 409 minutes under Gerrard.

Their build-up play was fast and incisive, with Brentford struggling to close down the spaces and they could have won by an even bigger margin with both Luiz and Emi Buendia not far off with shots from distance.

Danks, who had been assistant to Dean Smith prior to Gerrard’s arrival, had also made a brave call before kick-off by benching captain John McGinn. His bold leadership may be just what Villa need – certainly in the short term – as they look to climb the table quickly.

“I have been asked to lead the team at the moment and will continue to do that,” Danks said.

“I will step forward Monday morning to prepare the team as we go and, until I hear otherwise, it is full focus and energy on that.”

Sunday’s defeat was a completely unexpected result for Brentford, especially coming just four days after a fine display against Chelsea.

This was probably one of the visitors’ worst performances since they were promoted to the Premier League, with Thomas Frank’s side largely limited to chasing shadows – particularly in the first half.

Alarm bells shouldn’t be ringing after this loss, which was more likely a consequence of a Villa response to Gerrard’s departure coupled with an off day for Brentford, who are sitting pretty comfortably in 10th place.

However, Brentford is still without an away win this season and striker Ivan Toney insists similar performances to this will be unacceptable.

“Shambles, to be honest. Shambles,” he said.

“We were like a bunch of kids out there. I don’t mind losing games but not like that. Embarrassing performance from the boys.”

source – BBC Sport

English Premier League

Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United

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Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United

Luton Town 1-2 Manchester United. Rasmus Hojlund scored for the sixth successive Premier League game as Manchester United survived a Luton Town display of fierce determination to stay in contention for the top four with victory at Kenilworth Road.

United’s £72m summer signing from Atalanta has hit a red-hot streak after early struggles in front of goal and scored twice in the first seven minutes to set up a fourth successive league win for Erik ten Hag’s side.

The 21-year-old pounced on Amari’i Bell’s error after only 37 seconds to round keeper Thomas Kaminski and score, adding a second in the seventh minute, instinctively diverting Alejandro Garnacho’s shot into the net.

Luton Town, in an uproarious atmosphere, responded with defiance and character, Carlton Morris swiftly giving the Hatters hope with a header as United struggled to cope with the intensity of the home side, especially in the opening half.

United lost defender Luke Shaw to injury before the interval, while Harry Maguire and Casemiro also went off at the break, but for all Luton’s second-half endeavour it was the visitors who created the better chances, Kaminski denying Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, and a Hojlund hat-trick.

However, there was one more nervous moment for the visitors in stoppage time when Ross Barkley’s glancing header clipped the top of the crossbar.

The win means United are now only five points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

United needed leaders to see them through an encounter that became an ordeal for long spells, especially in the opening half, and they emerged from unlikely sources as another important three points were secured.

While experienced players such as Casemiro, so lucky to avoid a second yellow card, Maguire and Raphael Varane struggled and were exposed by the sheer energy of Luton’s approach, it was match-winner Hojlund and outstanding 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo who stepped up.

Hojlund has really come to the fore in recent weeks, now getting the goals all his hard work – even early in the season when they were in short supply – deserve, his first a composed piece of work and his second quick thinking as United established early control.

The Denmark forward showed commendable hold-up play, a willingness to engage in the physical exchanges with Luton’s defence, and was only denied a treble by Kaminski’s block before he departed to a standing ovation from United’s away support.

Mainoo, meanwhile, rose above the blood and thunder with rare composure for one so young. United have a gem on their hands.

The visitors improved after the break and even though Luton pressed, they were the more dangerous side, Kaminski and Albert Sambi Lokonga denying Rashford before a combination of the goalkeeper and Bell thwarted Garnacho.

In the end, Hojlund’s early goals were enough as United extended their winning run.

Luton lost another home game to one of the Premier League’s big guns but once again more illustrious visitors to Kenilworth Road were made to fight every inch of the way.

United joined Manchester City and Arsenal in chalking up a narrow wins while Liverpool were held to a draw – and it is no surprise when Luton’s approach in this wonderfully hostile environment is taken into account.

The Hatters could have been forgiven for thinking their day was done when they conceded two goals in only seven minutes but, galvanised by the home support, Rob Edwards’ side responded superbly and were right back in it after Morris’ goal.

The reborn Barkley prompted from midfield with confidence while Lokonga was one of the game’s outstanding performers.

Luton faded after the break but showed enough to suggest they can make a real fight of things before the relegation places are decided, the standing ovation at the final whistle merited for their efforts.

Barkley almost snatched a point when his header glanced off the bar in the closing seconds but it was not to be for battling Luton.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton

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Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton

Sheffield United 0-5 Brighton. Brighton thrashed 10-man Sheffield United, who stayed bottom of the Premier League and conceded five goals at home for the third consecutive game.

The game swung in the 12th minute when United’s Mason Holgate caught Kaoru Mitoma in midfield with a horrific challenge just below the knee.

The Everton loanee was shown a yellow card, but the decision was upgraded to a red after intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR).

Against 10 men, Brighton attacked at will, taking the lead through Facundo Buonanotte, who bundled in a corner.

Danny Welbeck doubled the advantage, firing in a rebound after keeper Wes Foderingham denied Mitoma.

The hosts thought they had pulled a goal back just before the break through Ben Osborn, but his hooked volley has ruled out for offside.

Brighton got a deserved third midway through the second half when United defender Jack Robinson diverted Mitoma’s cross into his own net.

Simon Adingra added two late goals, burying Pascal Gross’ cutback and benefiting from a looping deflection.

Sunday’s victory was only Brighton’s second in the league in 2024, although they have won twice in the FA Cup, including a 5-2 triumph over United at Bramall Lane in the fourth round.

Even before Holgate’s sending-off Roberto de Zerbi’s side were routinely carving forward.

Adingra, back from winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, had a cross deflected off Anel Ahmedhodzic and narrowly kept out by a diving Foderingham.

At 2-0, Yasser Larouci twice cleared off the line for United, denying Mitoma and Gross from close range. Foderingham also smartly kept out Welbeck and Mitoma either side of half-time.

Brighton’s win is their biggest away from home in the top flight, and they have scored four or more goals seven times in all competitions this season.

Seventh-placed Brighton face teams from the bottom half of the table in their next five games.

They host Everton on Saturday, a game De Zerbi will expect to win.

source – BBC

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English Premier League

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea

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Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea

Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea. Rodri dramatically rescued a point with a late leveller for Manchester City to deny Chelsea victory and maintain his side’s long unbeaten home record.

City still lost ground in the title race after seeing Liverpool and Arsenal both post emphatic wins earlier on Saturday, but this has to go down as a point gained given how close they came to defeat.

Raheem Sterling had given Chelsea the lead just before half-time, finishing off a brilliant counter-attack by meeting Nicolas Jackson’s cross, cutting inside Kyle Walker and curling his shot home.

The visitors looked threatening on the break all game, with Jackson earlier spurning an even better chance from Malo Gusto’s cross when a heavy touch allowed Ederson to smother his shot, and City’s keeper also denied Sterling a second from point-blank range.

City were racking up the chances too, but seemed unable to take any of them, or even seriously test Chelsea goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic despite piling on the pressure in the second half.

Erling Haaland was the main culprit, with his worst miss coming when he somehow headed wide from a delicious Kevin de Bruyne cross.

The defending champions were facing their first home league defeat since November 2022, until Rodri struck with seven minutes to go.

After Walker’s shot was deflected into his path on the edge of the box, Rodri fired in a ferocious first-time strike that was going in anyway but took a touch off Chelsea substitute Trevoh Chalobah on its way into the net.

The draw sees City drop to third in the table, four points behind leaders Liverpool but with a game in hand – they can close the gap, and leapfrog second-placed Arsenal, if they beat Brentford here on Tuesday.

Chelsea, who were minutes away from a third successive away win, stay 10th, but head to Wembley for next weekend’s Carabao Cup final on the back of one of their best displays of an erratic campaign.

source – BBC

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