Things started promisingly for Aston Villa Saturday afternoon in Bristol. Jack Grealish opened the scoring just 5 minutes in with a volley from a Leandro Bacuna cross, and as Villa continued to apply pressure it seemed again as if Villa were on the verge of a blowout win. But, as the first half went on, Villa couldn't find a second goal. Jordan Ayew came close but failed to hit the target, and Leandro Bacuna was denied by Bristol City goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell to ensure Villa went into the break only one up. In a way similar to other games this season, Villa's inability to capitalize came back to haunt Roberto di Matteo's men in the second half.
Bristol City began the second half immediately on the front foot. Despite Villa carving out a counter-attack wasted by Jordan Ayew to momentarily ease the pressure, Bristol City soon struck back with two goals in two minutes. Tammy Abraham equalized in the 59th minute and Joe Bryan put Bristol City 2-1 up in the 61st minute. Confusing changes then ensued as Libor Kozak entered in favor of debutant Ritchie De Laet and Andre Green replaced Ashley Westwood. Bristol City put the game to bed just after the 80th minute as Lee Tomlin buried a free kick, by which Pierluigi Gollini was beaten soundly.
Once again, Villa's superb first half was thrown away. This emerging pattern is the type of Achilles' heel that could very well handicap an entire season. Let's hope Roberto di Matteo can figure out how to sort it out.