Aston Villa defeated Newcastle, closing in on the top four in the Premier League

Ollie Watkins scored twice for Aston Villa in their impressive 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, completely opening up the fight for a top-four Premier League finish.
After their seventh victory in eight games, sixth-placed Villa pulled within six points of third-place Newcastle. Jacob Ramsey also scored.

In anticipation of their matchup the following weekend, Tottenham can tie the Magpies for top place with a victory over Bournemouth later on Saturday. This is the Magpies’ first loss in six games.

Just staying in the Premier League was Emery’s first task when he was appointed in October with Villa just one point above the relegation zone.

But, after earning 22 of the last 24 points available, Unai Emery’s team is in great shape in the race for a spot in the Champions League for the following season.

Newcastle never recovered from the home team’s blistering start at Villa Park, thanks in large part to the former Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain manager who inspired an astonishing turnaround.

Villa has scored in each of its 20 games played under Emery, and they had a 15-minute window to go three up.

With only 28 seconds remaining, the in-form Watkins dribbled through the Newcastle defense and smacked the inside of the post.

When Villa finally scored the goal it deserved after 11 minutes, Watkins was the one who set it up.

The representative of England headed John McGinn’s cross back into Ramsey’s path for a goal that went into the bottom corner.

When Watkins attempted to pass low to his left, Nick Pope was compelled to make a significant stop.

Newcastle had won their last five games to get within striking distance of a 20-year Champions League comeback.

Once Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak were put together in attack, Eddie Howe’s players temporarily posed a serious threat.

Even though he was offside, Wilson’s first touch prompted Emi Martinez to make a stop before Isak pricked the Argentinean goalkeeper’s hands.

The visitors’ increased offensive intent, though, was also creating openings for Villa to use on the counterattack.

Watkins finally outmuscled Pope, but a VAR review determined that he was offside, preventing him from scoring.

Yet 25 minutes from time, he scored his 10th goal in 12 games after spinning onto Alex Moreno’s cross and giving Pope no chance.

Since the World Cup, no player has scored more Premier League goals (12) than Watkins. Seven minutes from the end, after Ramsey had diverted Emi Buendia’s cross into his path, he struck again.

AFP

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