Ollie Watkins brace fires Aston Villa into top four

Fulham FC v Aston Villa - Premier League
Fulham FC v Aston Villa - Premier League / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Ollie Watkins' goalscoring form reignited as Aston Villa capitalized on Tottenham's stumble to barge back into the Champions League places. The clinical striker scored twice at Craven Cottage, powering Villa to a crucial 2-1 win over a spirited Fulham side.

Having endured a brief goal drought, Watkins wasted no time in the 23rd minute. A defensive lapse from Fulham gifted him possession in the box, and the forward lashed a venomous shot past Bernd Leno. It was the kind of predatory finish that has made him a key figure for Steven Gerrard's men.

Villa doubled their advantage in the 56th minute. Youri Tielemans' incisive pass split the Fulham defense, leaving Watkins galloping clear. The striker kept his nerve, expertly rounding Leno and slotting the ball home to confirm his brace and put Villa firmly in the driver's seat.

Though stunned, Fulham showed resilience. Rodrigo Muniz sparked a glimmer of hope, pouncing on a defensive scramble barely two minutes after Villa's second. Craven Cottage was alive again, and a nail-biting finish ensued.

With the return of Pau Torres bolstering their backline, Villa dug deep against Fulham's final onslaught. Despite frayed nerves, they weathered the storm to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

The win was a statement of intent from Villa, vaulting them back into fourth place and leaving the coveted Champions League spot tantalizingly within reach. Fulham, meanwhile, remain comfortably in mid-table but will take heart from their spirited display.