Aston Villa toppled Brighton, 2-1, in their final match before the World Cup break on Sunday afternoon.
Villa win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time this season and move up into 12th place with 18 points.
Newly-appointed head coach Unai Emery delivered Villa their first road win of the season at the first time of asking. His side remains undefeated in the league since he took charge on November 1.
A disastrous start for Villa saw them fall behind in the opening minute when Alexis Mac Allister stripped Douglas Luiz of the ball at the top of the Villa box and beat his compatriot, Emi Martinez, on the left side.
In the 19th minute, John McGinn won a penalty when broke into the Brighton box and drew Lewis Dunk into a foul. Danny Ings converted on the spot kick to draw the match level, 1-1.
Villa’s high attacking line forced Brighton into a turnover in the 54th minute, and after pouncing on a loose ball, Luiz fed a breaking Ings, whose shot took a deflection and trickled past Robert Sanchez.
From there, Villa closed up shop, weathered the ensuing Brighton storm, and held on for a crucial 2-1 victory.
Brighton 1-2 Aston Villa: a closer look
Emery singled out Ings in a post-match press conference, saying: “Very, very good work from Danny Ings. We changed our shape a little bit with him because I was thinking his best position is between the two centre-backs.
“We needed good passes and assists to him, and I think if we could do it, we would help Danny to give his best performance.”
Emery and the side got it right on the day having held a 1.28 to 0.67 expected goals (xG) edge in the match. Ings was dangerous throughout and now has three goals in his last four Premier League appearances.
Ings said after the match: “As a team, I thought we were excellent today.
“It’s never easy conceding so early but I think it woke us up and from that moment on we created a lot of chances. We won the penalty, scored it, and then stayed in the game. We got another chance, scored it, and then saw the game out.”
A change in attacking philosophy under Emery has transformed Villa into a team that takes better care of the ball. Under Steven Gerrard, Villa averaged 19 crosses into the box per game. On Sunday, Villa were credited with four crosses.
Defender Tyrone Mings was sharp on Sunday, registering 11 clearances — the highest total for any Villa player this campaign.
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