Aston Villa claimed victory over a ten-man Brighton & Hove Albion today, but it wasn’t always easy.
Graham Potter’s Brighton started off on a strong footing, playing out patiently from the back before unlocking the dual threat of Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly up front. For a while, it looked like Aston Villa had no counter for Brighton, and endured a period of time where even clearing their lines seemed too much of an ask.
Brighton scored through a floated set-piece, and Adam Webster had a free path to cannon a header past a helpless Tom Heaton. Brighton promised to score more.
Frustration for both teams bubbled over, and the match tipped upon its head. Aaron Mooy, previously booked for petulantly playing with a Villa free-kick was sent off for late lunge on Jack Grealish, and Brighton’s dominance disappeared with it.
Aston Villa actioned their advantage immediately. Who else but Conor Hourihane would deliver arcing shot into the goal? Unfortunately, the goal was pulled back for a ‘foul in the buildup’ after someone, somewhere, used the VAR check to declare that Wesley’s challenge on the goalkeeper was a foul.
The Villa turned their further frustration into positive and direct action though, and scored quickly after the reset when Jack Grealish was allowed to bobble a ball over the line from point-blank range to give Villa the scoreline that they felt was robbed from them.
The second-half didn’t promise much for Villa, who were unable to make their one man advantage count for much. Their tempo fell away, and the team lacked any kind of build-up. Brighton found success in containing Villa and patiently creating chances, with Maupay missing a golden opportunity to steal the lead.
Villa settled for a left-flank attack through Grealish and Matt Targett that threatened to disappoint. Cut-backs were drilled into defenders, and as time flowed away it looked like Villa had lost the chance to win. Handball and penalty calls were denied, and anxiety flowed from the stands onto the pitch.
However, the left-flank finally paid dividends as Targett was able to latch onto a Grealish ball after Villa’s captain rode a number of challenges into the box. Villa’s left-back rifled in the shot, the VAR check finalised, and Villa Park left in delight. A win, seemingly against the odds.