Aston Villa player ratings vs Crystal Palace: Three score 3/10 and several 4s in final day defeat

Aston Villa’s historic 2023/24 campaign came to an embarrassing end as Crystal Palace, inspired by a Jean-Philippe Mateta hat-trick, thrashed Unai Emery’s side 5-0 at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.

Guaranteed to finish fourth and with Champions League qualification already clinched, Villa understandably lacked motivation but the unhurried approach allowed the hosts to run riot. It ultimately means nothing for Villa but it was made so simple for Oliver Glaser’s men, able to tear apart the Villans’ back four with ease.

A rotated lineup was named as Emery gave several fringe players a run-out but none of them impressed and Palace were effectively gifted a free ticket to secure their top-half finish. The Villans had their fair share of chances during one flurry in the first period but no attacker could match the clinical work of Mateta or Eze.

It took just eight minutes for Palace to take the lead as Mateta, latching onto a Michael Olise through ball, slotted into the far side netting beyond Robin Olsen. It couldn’t have been much more effortless for the striker as Villa’s defence looked uninterested and mounted hardly any challenge to stop the move.

The visitors had three chances to equalise just after the quarter-hour mark but they were all squandered. Moussa Diaby was first as he sprinted onto a terrific Douglas Luiz pass but saw his shot saved by a diving Dean Henderson. Diaby then had an even better opening from the resultant corner but scuffed his volley at the far post, also saved. Ollie Watkins was next but his header bounced down into the ground and wide.

The away momentum didn’t last long as Palace regained control and made it two to the good in the 39th minute. Mateta was the scorer again, this time finishing cooly into the roof of the net from a low Daniel Muñoz cross. It was nearly three just before the break as Olise cut in and pulled the trigger but Olsen did excellently to dive to his right and keep it out. Villa’s goalkeeper again denied Olise a few moments later, snuffing out an attempt at the near post.

Eze fired Palace even further ahead in the 54th minute, making it 3-0 with a devastating driven shot into the near corner, from around 20 yards. Diaby disappointed in the build-up as a pass ricocheted off his foot and he completely gave up. Diego Carlos was then at fault as he failed to press Eze, giving him acres of space to shoot.

Mateta completed his hat-trick in the 64th minute, giving Palace a four-goal advantage. One long throw from Henderson set Eze away down the left and he was able to breeze past Carlos. Mateta, thread through in the area, did excellently to work space and find the far corner. Lucas Digne and Clement Lenglet defended very poorly to let Mateta dribble past.

It was nearly a fourth for Mateta as he slotted yet another into the net but the flag was up for offside. It didn’t matter, though, as Eze scored yet another to make it 5-0 to Palace. Once again, it was far too simple as the Eagles’ number 10 played an easy one-two with Mateta before firing hard and low into the bottom left corner.

There were yet more chances for Palace nearing the final whistle and Villa were in the end a little fortunate not to concede even more. Here’s how Birmingham World reporter Charlie Haffenden rated the players at Selhurst Park.

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