Villa’s second-half thrashing of Derby County was the performance all Villa supporters dreamed about when Dean Smith took over from Steve Bruce last month. Aggressive. Positive. Attractive, winning football.
Too often Villa would travel away to other Championship sides eager to take the away point, often forgetting about the other two on offer from lesser sides. But on Saturday afternoon at Pride Park, Aston Villa pieced together a dominant 45 minutes of football not seen from the Claret and Blue in quite some time.
Three goals in a ten minute span from John McGinn, Tammy Abraham, and Conor Hourihane lifted Villa to a 3-0 win against Frank Lampard’s playoff-chasing Rams and served notice to the rest of the league Villa aren’t quite finished yet this season.
A tight first-half preceded Villa’s dominance, but the introduction of Yannick Bolaise in the 70th minute for Jonathan Kodjia sharpened what, up to the that point, had been a wasteful effort from the visitors.
The first of the three goals came in the 73rd minute off a gorgeous bending cross from Bolaise that found McGinn racing to the front of the net. The midfielder headed the ball into the back of the net and Villa’s effort in the second half was finally rewarded. McGinn returned the favor four minutes later as Tammy Abraham doubled Villa’s advantage with a right-footed goal off McGinn’s cross.
Villa was comfortably on top 2-0 as Derby looked incapable of mounting a comeback. Hourihane finished off the home side with a beautiful left-footed bending free kick around Derby’s wall into the upper-left hand side of the goal. Another moment of individual brilliance from the Irishmam. Again, McGinn’s effort and grit outside the box won the free kick setting up Hourihane’s work of art.
A lively and spirited first half ended goalless. Both Derby and Villa had plenty of chances as both sides employed an aggressive, attacking, and pressing approach. Within the opening 20 minutes both defenses gave the ball away in vulnerable positions and each were fortunate to not concede.
Villa’s best chance came in the 33rd minute as Scott Carson footed away a Tammy Abraham header on the line.
Orjan Nyland saved Villa saving a flurry of efforts from Derby in the 38th minute keeping the game scoreless. Derby’s final real scoring chance came just before halftime when Villa were caught napping at the back and Carson’s long ball to Tommy Lawrence found the striker behind Axel Tuanzebe. Lawrence flicked the ball just over the bar and both sides entered the break deadlocked. Nyland’s heroics weren’t needed in the second as Villa took control.
In the final tally, Villa outshot Derby 21-11 with each side earning five on target.
Dean Smith unveiled an unchanged side from the 2-0 win against Bolton from last Friday. It’ll be interesting to see if Bolaise finds a way into the starting lineup against Blues after the international break.
Villa: Nyland, Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor (Elmohamady 45), Adomah, McGinn, Hourihane, Kodjia (Bolasie 70), Grealish, Abraham (Hogan 87)
Derby: Carson, Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Forsyth (Nugent 80), Wilson, Huddlestone, Holmes (Malone 70), Bennett (Jozefoon 51), Marriott, Lawrence