Aston Villa player ratings gallery: Five score 8/10 in 2-1 win vs Leeds but three get 4/10
Player ratings from Aston Villa’s 2-1 win over Leeds United in the Premier League on Friday evening.
Aston Villa got back to winning ways on Friday evening as they beat Leeds United by two goals to one in a heated encounter at Villa Park. Leon Bailey silenced his critics with a goal and a hard-working display and there were a few other standout figures, but the Villans still did not look at their best as the visitors were unfortunate not to score more than their one.
It was the perfect start for Villa as Bailey scored with a brilliant finish into the top left-hand corner, just three minutes in. It was a superb counter attack from Unai Emery’s men, kick-started by Ashley Young. The experienced full-back was composed after a Leeds corner to switch the ball to Boubacar Kamara, who advanced well before finding Bailey on the left. The Jamaican international then cut in and fired it home, sending the home support into a frenzy.
Only a few minutes later the celebrations were cut a little short, as left-back Lucas Digne was forced off with what looked like a painful shoulder injury. The Frenchman walked off very gingerly with his shoulder being held still by medical staff. New signing Alex Moreno, who was named among the subs, was brought on for a far earlier debut than he would have expected.
Leeds responded well to the goal as they began to dominate proceedings, but much of their play was side-to-side in front of Villa’s back four. There was a big shout from the away side for a penalty as Rodrigo was brought down by Douglas Luiz after a clever free-kick routine, but the contact was not quite strong enough to warrant a VAR overturn. Michael Oliver was spot on, but perhaps a little risky from Luiz.
Emery was barking instructions down on the touchline for much of the rest of the first period as his players were really struggling to deal with Leeds’ intense press. Countless deliveries were sent into the area and it wasn’t long before they had a big chance. Luke Ayling’s first-time cross found its way to Jack Harrison at the far post and if it wasn’t for a save of the season contender from Emi Martinez to stop the winger at close range, it surely would have been 1-1.
Moments before the half-time whistle the away side thought they had a well-deserved equaliser as Rodrigo responded quickest to a deflected cross into the penalty area, but the goalscorer was offside as he initially collected the ball. Villa were very fortunate to be leading heading into the break but after it they looked far more comfortable both on and off the ball.
Changing to a 4-2-3-1 from a 4-4-2, the hosts were able to provide a far better fight in the midfield battle and they were able to control possession a bit more in the early stages. Jesse Marsch’s side looked threatening on the counter but Emiliano Buendia was able to double Villa’s advantage in the 65th minute, even if it did require a VAR check to give the goal.
The Lions’ first scorer, Bailey, fired a powerful effort at Illan Meslier and Buendia was in the right place at the right time to head the rebound over the fallen Leeds goalkeeper. Initially, the linesman had his flag up for offside, but after a long VAR check, the decision was overturned and the goal was given. The roof nearly came off at Villa Park when that call was made - as was the immense tension in the ground beforehand.
That tension was sure to return toward the end of the fixture as it was ramped up once again with Leeds grabbing a goal back through a clinical Patrick Bamford. Tricky winger Wilfried Gnonto glided past Morgan Sanson and Ezri Konsa before cutting it back to Bamford, who slotted the ball home. Leeds applied lots of pressure before the game came to a close, but Villa were resilient enough to hold on for a very, very important three points. Find our player ratings, below.