Aston Villa player ratings gallery vs Brighton: Rare 10/10 handed out as seven earn 8s

Player ratings and match report from Aston Villa’s remarkable 6-1 Premier League victory against Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park.

Aston Villa soared into the Premier League top three with a stunning 6-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon. Ollie Watkins picked the perfect time to score a hat-trick, notch an assist and reach 50 goals in claret and blue as Gareth Southgate watched on at Villa Park. Unai Emery’s side startled the visitors, taking advantage of an array of defensive mistakes. The Seagulls got one back just after the break as Ansu Fati netted his first goal for the club, but the damage had already been done. Things may have been slightly different if a few subjective VAR calls went the other way, but it was a comprehensive display from Villa to head into the Champions League spots.

It was a cagey start to proceedings with plenty of scrappy fouls in midfield but Villa were able to break the deadlock after just 14 minutes. Brighton looked vulnerable on the transition and Emery’s side took full advantage as John McGinn played Matty Cash in on the right and the Poland international drilled the ball into the six-yard box. Watkins made a brilliant run to latch onto the cross and fired it beyond Jason Steele to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. The striker very nearly made it two just minutes later as he cut onto his right foot and curled the ball towards the far top corner, but Albion were relieved as the effort sailed wide.

Watkins did get another chance soon after, however, and made Brighton pay with his second goal of the game. Seagulls right-back Joel Veltman gave the ball away in midfield for Moussa Diaby to collect and send Watkins away down the left. The attacker cut in and made Veltman blush for a second time in a matter of moments before beating Steele at his near post. There was nearly a VAR intervention for Nicolo Zaniolo obstructing Steele’s vision while standing offside but it was brushed away, perhaps fortunately so for Villa.

The home support hardly had time to properly take in their side’s 2-0 lead before it was swiftly made three. Diaby set up his second assist of the encounter in unusual fashion as a mis-hit shot was turned into his own net by Pervis Estupiñan. Brighton were stunned and showed complacency at the other end as Solly March blazed a header over the crossbar. Veltman, trying to make amends for his mistakes, nodded the ball into March’s path but the winger misjudged its flight and missed a glaring opportunity to make it 2-1.

Roberto De Zerbi reacted to his team’s first half hounding with three changes at the interval, switching out Estupiñan, Danny Welbeck and Evan Ferguson for Tariq Lamptey, João Pedro and Ansu Fati. Two of the three made an instant impact as Pedro skipped past a mistimed McGinn challenge and drilled it into the area. The cross bounced around as if it were in a pinball machine but Fati reacted quickest at the far post to reduce the deficit with his first Brighton goal. There was a lengthy VAR check for offside but it was given to propel the visitors back into the clash.

Albion looked to be on the ascendency after their goal as Villa were forced to make a few last-ditch blocks in their penalty area, but it was the hosts who scored next. Watkins started and finished off a devastating move on the transition, with McGinn chipping in an assist – quite literally. Watkins gained possession near the centre circle and passed wide to McGinn before darting forward. Villa’s skipper looked up and dinked the ball back to Watkins before the number 11 cut onto his left foot and saw an effort flick off a helpless Adam Webster for 4-1.

It went from remarkable to outstanding for Emery’s men as Villa made it 5-1 with a few minutes left to play. Brighton striker Pedro was dispossessed in midfield and it went forward for Watkins, who got involved yet again with some terrific hold-up play. The hat-trick hero turned provider as he laid the ball off for substitute Jacob Ramsey. The popular young midfielder chopped inside and whipped the ball fiercely in off the post to put the game absolutely beyond doubt. Here are our player ratings from a memorable Villa victory.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.