Aston Villa player ratings vs Brentford: One 8/10 but one 4 and two 5s

Player ratings and match report for Brentford 1-2 Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Aston Villa completed an impressive late turnaround as they beat a 10-man Brentford side 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. Unai Emery's side certainly weren't at their best for much of the game but clicked into another gear in the closing 20 minutes or so to claim another vital three points. It was a tense affair at Gtech Community Stadium as Ben Mee was sent off for the hosts midway through the second period and Boubacar Kamara saw red in added time. Poor conduct was on show in the closing stages – something Unai Emery will be angered by – but the result somehow went Villa's way in the end.

The visitors started brightly as they won four corners within just the opening five minutes – all of which were taken short – and saw two early chances open up for Alex Moreno. The Spaniard saw a tame close-range effort saved before firing over the bar from just outside the penalty area. Brentford, set up to pounce on the transition, were handed a glorious chance in the eighth minute as Diego Carlos failed to clear a low Vitaly Janelt cross and Mikkel Damsgaard had acres of space to shoot in the box. The Dane fluffed his lines, however, giving Emiliano Martinez the chance to dive across and make an important stop.

Brentford had a big penalty shout in the 12th minute as Mee was bundled over in the area by John McGinn. VAR took a look at the incident as replays showed Villa's skipper with his arms all around the Bees defender but no obvious error was found. Villa were briefly flustered by the Bees' counter-attacking threat but got back in their groove to create their first clear-cut opportunity. Pau Torres got forward to curl in a wonderful deep delivery and Matty Cash was there to meet it but could only direct the ball wide of the post. It was a glorious chance – merely a couple of yards out from goal.

Villa were the side with most of the ball approaching half-time but one set piece was enough for Brentford to open the scoring. Keane Lewis-Potter took advantage of some very sloppy defending, reacting quickest to a loose ball and firing with composure into the bottom left-hand corner. Moreno was at fault as he wasn't aware enough of Lewis-Potter, leaving the goalscorer completely alone. The Bees then thought they'd scored a quickfire second as Yoanne Wissa struck home, but the forward was flagged offside. Jacob Ramsey then responded by stinging the gloves of goalkeeper Mark Flekken with the last kick of the half – but it was Brentford leading going into the break.

There was a check for a potential Bees red card merely moments into the second period as Christian Noorgard studded McGinn's heel. The midfielder was at first brandished a yellow card but had a nervous 60 seconds or so as VAR re-watched the incident. Much to Villa's dismay, the original decision remained. It took a long while for Emery's men to have their next opportunity to score but it was a huge one as Boubacar Kamara was left completely unmarked to throw his head at a Ramsey corner. The defensive midfielder simply had to find the target but saw his effort go a few inches wide of the left post.

Villa were given a fighting chance in the 71st minute as Brentford went down to 10 men, with Mee sent off for a reckless challenge on Leon Bailey. The defender caught Bailey studs-first and above the ankle, prompting a loud call from the Villa end. Referee David Coote gave a yellow at first – much like the Norgaard tackle earlier on in the half – but was instructed to take a second look at the screen by VAR official Craig Pawson. The check took a while but did its purpose as Mee saw his punishment change from yellow to red.

The Villans finally roared into life after the sending off and there was a goal to celebrate as Moreno equalised for the Villans in the 77th minute. Bailey, who looked far more confident and direct than Moussa Diaby had earlier in the encounter, looked up and put in a deep cross for Moreno. All the Villa number 15 had to do was head in from a yard out – perhaps the easiest finish he will ever make. It was then two to the good within minutes as Ollie Watkins, who had otherwise been quiet, stepped up at the vital moment to head into the net against his former team. It came from an inswinging Ramsey corner, flicked on cleverly by Kamara's heel.

There was plenty of tension after Villa gained their lead, first with a flurry of aggressive activity from both sets of players on the goalline and then in general play as proceedings turned scrappy. Five yellow cards were handed out in quick succession before Bailey nearly gifted Brentford an early Christmas present with a dodgy backpass to Martinez. Villa's goalkeeper had to sprint back and slide the ball behind; the Bees agonisingly close to making it 2-2 without any involvement of their own.

Martinez lost his head in added time as he grabbed Neal Maupay – who was on the floor – by his shirt and hooked him up. There was a huge scrap from both sets of players afterward, with Emery having to get involved to calm his men down. Kamara didn't get the memo, though, as he grabbed Yehor Yarmoliuk's face and was shown a straight red for his troubles. Emery got a yellow, while Martinez survived a VAR check for violent conduct. It certainly wasn't a pretty end but Villa were able to get through and hold on for another massive three points, going temporarily second with Liverpool still to play.


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