Aston Villa used a strong second half to overcome a really really ugly first 45 minutes of football. In doing so they picked up the 0-1 win at Loftus Road against QPR.
In the first half, there was a trio of bad happening on the pitch at the same time. Aston Villa were bad. They couldn’t complete passes, they looked unwilling to hustle, and they didn’t make the most of their chances. QPR were bad. They were unable to take advantage of a very poor Aston Villa and gave up a penalty in a stupid way.
And most of all, the referee was bad. After denying two more-clear-cut penalty appeals, he finally awarded one to Jonathan Kodjia after a... soft foul. (Kodjia missed the penalty and Ross McCormack was unable to bury the rebound as he should have.) Later Kodjia would have his kit literally ripped and not receive so much as a free kick or a word of solace from the bad ref.
But despite the trio of bad, the half ended scoreless and Aston Villa had a chance to put in 45 minutes of good. And, much to my surprise, they did! The attacking intent was actually there, and the midfield managed to stifle QPR and prevent them from doing too much.
And then it all came together in the 75th minute when, who else, Kodjia managed to slot one in. He got himself to the far right of the goal, and Alex Smithies had it well blocked. But there was a narrow angle into which Kodjia powered a shot. With about two feet of space between the keeper and the goal, the ball hit Smithies hand and deflected in. It was a lovely strike that atoned for the earlier penalty miss.
From there, little else happened. QPR pushed a bit at the end, but it all came to naught and Aston Villa took home the win. Now they’ve got six points from four matches in December and have a bit of momentum headed into two matches at Villa Park (on Boxing Day and the 29th).