Aston Villa claimed a much-needed 1-0 victory over Southampton on a night when the Premier League had its first opportunity to pay tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The Villa Park crowd observed a minute’s silence and then joined together in a rendition of the National Anthem as the English top-flight returned to action following last weekend’s postponements in memory of the Monarch.
Steven Gerrard’s Villans edged a fairly uneventful first period and broke the deadlock on 41 minutes when Jacob Ramsey fired in a rebound.
Southampton improved following the restart but it was Villa who looked the more likely with Ramsey going close to a second with a close-range shot that was blocked.
The result sees Villa pick up a first league win since August 13 and moves them up to 13th spot on seven points. The Saints are one place better off in 12th but only on goals scored.
Following the international break Southampton will return to action by hosting Everton on Saturday October 1 while Villa will visit Leeds a day later.
Respite for Villa. This was just the second win in 11 league matches for Gerrard’s side and there was a sense of frustration and anxiety around Villa Park throughout much of the game.
The pre-match talk had been about building upon a hard-fought 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City and although this was not a sparkling performance, the three points were what mattered most of all.
There was also the boost of a first clean sheet in 12 top-flight matches and an improved showing from the statement signing of Gerrard’s reign so far, Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has failed to deliver so far this term but looked more like his dynamic and inventive self, and that can only be good news for Villans moving forward.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa). The 21-year-old netted his first goal of the season and produced one of his best performances too. The midfielder was dangerous throughout and will hope to kick on from here and hit the heights that saw him stand-out for much of last term.
ASTON VILLA: Martinez 7, Young 7, Konsa 7, Mings 7, Digne 7, Kamara 6, McGinn 7, Ramsey 7, Coutinho 7, Bailey 6, Watkins 7. Subs: Luiz 6, Buendia 6, Dendoncker 6, Ings n/a.
SOUTHAMPTON: Bazunu 6, Walker-Peters 6, Bella-Kotchap 7, Salisu 7, Perraud 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Diallo 6, Elyounoussi 6, Djenepo 7, A Armstrong 6, Adams 6. Subs: Aribo 6, Larios 6, S Armstrong 6, Mara 6, Edozie n/a.
34’ – ASTON VILLA CHANCE! Coutinho jinks in from the left, turns his marker inside out and then rifles a 25-yard thunderbolt just over the top.
40’ – ASTON VILLA CHANCE! Coutinho arrives late at the far post to head Young’s floated cross but his effort is too close to the keeper.
41’ – GOAL! – Aston Villa 1-0 Southampton. Ramsey knocks in the rebound after Bazunu had tipped Watkins’s header on to the bar.
60’ – ASTON VILLA CHANCE! It could be two. Watkins and Mings combine to tee up Ramsey but his goal-bound effort is blocked.
90+4’ – SOUTHAMPTON CHANCE! Armstrong nods Ward-Prowse’s free kick well wide of the far post.