Aston Villa got back to their winning ways on Saturday with a 2-0 home victory over struggling Newcastle United.
Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins scored his first Premier League goal in 10 games and Burkina Faso’s midfielder Bertrand Traore added another to give them a 2-0 home win over struggling Newcastle United.
The three points lifted them to eighth place in the English Premier League with 29 points after a coronavirus-enforced break.
It was no more than Villa deserved as they missed several chances to win by a bigger margin while the visitors lacked any edge with their midfield stifled out and unable to feed strikers Andy Carroll and Callum Wilson.
Aston Villa have two games in hand because an outbreak of coronavirus at their training facilities.
The outbreak forced manager Dean Smith and many first team players to isolate from Jan. 6 and miss two fixtures.
Newcastle United meanwhile have not picked up a win in seven league games since Dec. 12 and have slipped to 16th place on 19 points, seven clear of the relegation zone.
Watkins was delighted and conceded his barren run had dented his confidence.
“I feel like it has been a long time coming, I have been getting into the right areas and it has been frustrating,” he told Sky Sports.
“As a striker you always want to score goals, I have been unlucky and thankfully it went in today. I kept my eye on the ball and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.
“The goals will always come if I keep going in the box, it came off a defender’s shin tonight and fell for me.”
Villa pressed from the start and Watkins fired them into a 13th-minute lead as he beat visiting goalkeeper Karl Darlow to the ball and headed it in after Fabian Schaer failed to clear a low Matt Targett cross from the left.
Watkins had another effort correctly ruled out for marginal offside before Traore made it 2-0 in the 42nd, beating Darlow with a fine first-time shot off the underside of the bar thanks to a superb assist by Jack Grealish.
Villa kept up the pressure after the break as Darlow denied Watkins in the 48th minute and substitute Trezeguet in stoppage time, while Ross Barkley came close with an audacious back-heel and Grealish fired wide of the far post.