English Premier League

Aston Villa 3-2 Burnley

Aston Villa 3-2 Burnley. Aston Villa moved level with Premier League leaders Liverpool as a late Douglas Luiz penalty secured victory against 10-man Burnley.

The Brazil midfielder converted from the penalty spot in the 89th minute after Jhon Duran was fouled by former Villa player Aaron Ramsey.

Burnley had twice come from behind in the game, with Lyle Foster scoring their second equaliser despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men following Sander Berge’s second yellow card.

Moussa Diaby put Villa ahead again on 42 minutes after Leon Bailey’s opener for Villa had been cancelled out by an almost immediate equaliser by Zeki Amdouni.

The victory moves Villa onto 42 points and behind Liverpool only on goal difference, with the Reds set to host Newcastle United on New Year’s Day.

Despite the battling performance Vincent Kompany’s Burnley stay five points from safety.

Aston Villa opened the scoring on 29 minutes when Bailey picked up Ollie Watkins’ pass across the box, cut in from the right and fired into the roof of the net via a deflection.

Burnley equalised almost immediately when a high free-kick from the left was headed back across goal by Dara O’Shea, allowing Amdouni to acrobatically volley in from close range.

Villa went back in front with Watkins – narrowly judged onside by the video assistant referee – again the provider as the England striker pulled the ball back for Diaby to finish.

Burnley’s hopes of another comeback were dented in the second half when midfielder Berge received a second booking for pulling Luiz’s shirt.

But after Villa missed several chances, Foster streaked clear of their defence and beat Emiliano Martinez at the near post.

It was Foster’s first goal since October, following a two-month break to look after his mental health, and it looked to have earned Burnley a point from a losing position for the first time in the Premier League this season.

But Ramsey – a Villa academy product who joined Burnley in the summer, and whose brother Jacob started for the hosts – clipped Duran in the area to allow Luiz the opportunity to win the game from the spot.

The midfielder’s penalty twice struck the bar – hitting the woodwork then bouncing up from the grass and off it again before crossing the line – but it was enough to earn Villa a 32nd victory in league and cup matches this calendar year, surpassing the previous club record set in 1977.

Having passed up the opportunity to top the Premier League at Christmas for the first time in 25 years, Villa’s surprise Premier League challenge was in danger of unwrapping over the festive period as they laboured against Burnley.

Their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Boxing Day after being two goals ahead followed a draw against Sheffield United, and Villa were in danger of dropping more points at home to a side in the relegation zone.

As against Sheffield United, Villa often looked weighed down by the pressure that comes from a lofty position that is perhaps unexpected.

Diaby, despite his goal, was particularly guilty of missing several good chances while Burnley keeper James Trafford once again made a string of fine saves.

They had some luck too, with Diego Carlos cleared by VAR despite appearing to handle the ball under pressure from Clarets striker Foster.

But as they did with a 97th-minute equaliser against Sheffield United, Unai Emery’s side fought to the close to earn a result that was better than their performance.

Watkins was central to their efforts, despite the England striker failing to match Andy Gray’s record of most Villa goals in a calendar year – he netted 21 times in 2023, two fewer than the Scotland forward in 1976.

While he was unable to find the net, the former Brentford striker’s endless running and selfless play was invaluable and he provided assists for Villa’s opening two goals.

source – BBC

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