Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins scores in the final moments to secure a draw against Bournemouth.

As Aston Villa appeared to be heading towards a frustrating loss, Unai Emery’s team managed to secure a draw against a resurgent Bournemouth thanks to a well-placed header from Ollie Watkins just before the end of the second half.

By the end of the season, or possibly even before then, this could potentially be considered a positive result due to the slim margin they needed to secure a spot in the Champions League. Looking at the overall situation, Villa, dominant on their own field, are still in a strong position to compete.

Maybe the reason behind the enthusiastic festivities was that Watkins scored his 11th goal in his last 15 games in all competitions. As Watkins ran towards the fans from the opposing team, Emery became ecstatic and ran around his designated area, pumping his fists in the air. It was an exceptional goal that allowed Villa to tie the game and keep their momentum going.

Watkins beat Ilia Zabarnyi to the substitute Moussa Diaby’s cross and twisted his head to generate enough power to beat the Bournemouth goalkeeper and captain, Neto. “These kind of players need just 20cm,” Andoni Iraola, the Bournemouth manager, said, acknowledging the beauty of the goal. “For sure, we can defend better but for me the key [to the match] was more the other side. We had chances to score a third goal and probably finish the game.”

Watkins had previously been largely uninvolved, his subpar performance reflecting the lackluster showing from Villa as a whole. Emiliano Martínez played a crucial role in securing a positive result for Villa, making two excellent saves from Dominic Solanke, both in the first and second half.

During the game, Douglas Luiz made a pained expression as Ryan Christie evaded him and passed the ball to Solanke near the six-yard box. However, Martínez was able to block the striker’s shot with his body. In the second half, Martínez was relieved and took a deep breath after stopping Solanke from scoring, with the help of a precise cross from the speedy Marcus Tavernier, who dribbled the ball from the middle of the field.

With games against Manchester City and Arsenal on the horizon, a significant week given their aspirations this season, Villa at least avoided an ignominious start. Villa arrived as formidable opponents, soaring high with the league summit within sight, but twice pulled level to cancel out goals by the selfless Antoine Semenyo and Solanke. Semenyo again shone but was fortunate to avoid a cheap red card, tugging at Leon Bailey’s shirt after picking up an early yellow.

Dominic Solanke puts Bournemouth 2-1 up.

Iraola is in a good position to assess Villa’s chances of making it into the top four, as Bournemouth has faced all of the top six teams. Emery, on the other hand, is determined to go beyond just talking about challenging the top teams. According to Iraola, Villa excels in the attacking third, on counter-attacks, and whenever they have the opportunity to utilize players like Diaby, Watkins, Bailey, or whoever is on the left wing.

Their ability to regain possession, excel at set pieces, and consistently pose a threat makes them a dangerous team. They can score a significant number of goals even if they are not playing at their peak level.

During the game, both Iraola and Emery were visibly anxious as they walked back and forth in their respective coaching zones. Emery is usually an interesting figure to watch, but he became increasingly agitated as the possibility of temporarily moving up to second place in the standings began to slip away.

Ignore the newsletter advertisement.

In the first half, a few minutes into the eight minutes of added time, Emery appeared quite agitated as he questioned why John McGinn had pretended to pass the ball, leading to a heated exchange. After the break, when Solanke scored again with a clever shot, Emery expressed his frustration when the referee, Thomas Bramall, stopped the game after Semenyo crashed into the advertising boards. Emery’s irritation was also evident when Milos Kerkez of Bournemouth gained some extra distance with his throw-in from the halfway line.

During halftime, the referee faced criticism from fans on both sides. A review by VAR took four minutes to confirm that Diego Carlos’s goal, which would have given Villa a 2-1 lead right after Bailey’s equalizer, was not valid. The goal was disallowed due to Lucas Digne being offside during the buildup, despite beating Tavernier in a header. As the game came to an end, the intense and heated atmosphere made the earlier events seem insignificant.

Jhon Duran, a substitute for Villa, struck the post with a shot that bounced off Marcos Senesi. However, it was Bournemouth who will regret missing their opportunities to secure a win. This is why Emery made a sensible decision to approach the game cautiously.

“The Villa manager praised our team’s determination to remain consistent and never give up during the match. Our resilience was evident both on the field and in our mindset. While the result may not be ideal, we must accept it.”


You May Also Like

More From Author