Aston Villa report and player ratings v Fulham: Five score 8/10 but three 5/10s in pre-season win - gallery
Player ratings with performance analysis and a match report from Aston Villa’s pre-season 2-0 win over Fulham in Orlando.
Aston Villa earned their first victory of pre-season on Wednesday night as they swept aside Fulham by two goals to nil in Orlando. Buoying with confidence in what was their second Premier League Summer Series outing, Unai Emery’s side entertained supporters at Exploria Stadium to gain a double advantage before defending with confidence to hold on.
The Villans went one step better following Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Newcastle United, as recent £50 million signing Moussa Diaby netted on a debut to remember and youngster Jaden Philogene chipped in with a clinical first-half strike. It would’ve been three if Cameron Archer converted the penalty he won, but his spot-kick was saved by Cottagers goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Kick off was delayed due to lightning nearby but the action wasn’t exactly electric when it eventually got underway, as both sides preferred a more leisured approach in the opening stages. Villa were the more convincing with a few chipped through balls close to getting in behind Fulham’s defence, but no clear-cut opportunities were crafted ahead of the first-half water break.
The first moments of note were vital, though, as Archer ran through onto a divine Kamara through pass, took a composed touch to get into the Fulham channel and was brought down by Luc Rollet De Fougerolles in the area. The 21-year-old striker stepped up and took the spot-kick he won but his low drive was denied by an outstretching Leno glove. Archer then had a second chance shortly after but fluffed his lines, putting the ball wide of the left post.
It wasn’t long after the misses that Emery’s men broke the deadlock, though, as Lucas Digne created some space on the left flank and put in a low cross to Philogene, who got in front of his man at the near post. Striking the delivery first-time, the 21-year-old directed the ball into the centre of the goal and through Leno’s legs, handing Villa a deserved 1-0 lead five minutes before the interval.
As is often the case in pre-season friendlies, plenty of changes were made at half time, with regular starters Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz replacing Robin Olsen, John McGinn and Kamara. The most exciting call from Emery, though, was the introduction of record signing Moussa Diaby. The Frenchman, who was placed in an advanced position on the right, took a little while to get going but was soon forgiven as he doubled Villa’s lead in the 73rd minute.
Sprinting onto a defence-splitting pass from Luiz, the 24-year-old took the ball into his stride, beating Issa Diop with ease. Within a split second it was shifted from his right foot to his left and then struck across goal to beat substitute ‘keeper Marek Rodak. It wasn’t just the goal that made Diaby shine, either, as he often dribbled inside and glided past defenders, unveiling a number of tricks up his sleeve.
Fulham dominated possession in the closing quarter of an hour or so as the men in claret and blue swapped chance creation for defensive actions. The Cottagers made a number of breakthroughs on the left flank as Cash failed to pick up runs from Willian and Luke Harris, especially on the underlap. The latter had the best opportunity of the bunch as he received the ball on the edge of the area and struck with power toward the bottom corner, but Martinez was there to dive across and make a sensational stop.
Emery’s side had the odd scare but managed to hold on for a convincing win and clean sheet in Florida, putting to bed any concerns after the two draws that preceded it. Flick through the pages for our player ratings, as well as some short-form analysis for each Villan.