Aston Villa kept their slim survival hopes alive with a 2-0 home victory over Crystal Palace, courtesy of Trezeguet’s brace.
Their first win in 11 Premier League games did not come easily or without controversy, as VAR overturned what looked to be an early Palace goal. Mamadou Sakho bundled in a free kick, but it was disallowed for handball despite most feeling replays only showed the ball touching his shoulder.
Villa were the better side after that reprieve, albeit without producing much in the way of free-flowing football, and the Egyptian Trezeguet gave them the lead in first-half stoppage time, executing a side-footed volley after being left unmarked at the back post.
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Jack Grealish thought he had won a penalty two minutes after the restart, but VAR again intervened and deemed he had stepped on Patrick van Aanholt’s foot in an incident eerily similar to the penalty Bruno Fernandes was given against Villa in midweek.
Trezeguet soon doubled the lead to ease the hosts’ fears of letting another lead slip, poking the ball into the net after Palace failed to deal with a hopeful header back into their box
Palace did create some chances late on, with Van Aanholt and ex-Villa man Christian Benteke both squandering opportunities, but it was too little, too late as they underwhelmed. Trezeguet even had a chance to complete his hat-trick, when substitute Matt Targett sent in a teasing cross in the dying minutes, but he failed to make a clean connection from close range.
Benteke was sent off after the final whistle as tempers flared. The victory moves Villa onto 30 points and four from safety, although they have a significantly worse goal difference than both Watford and West Ham United above them. All have three games left to play.

TALKING POINT

Villa are not down yet. It’s still an uphill battle for Dean Smith’s side to stay up. They likely need to win at least two of their three remaining games, including the final-day showdown with West Ham, and their fate is ultimately out of their hands, but at least they have a chance. It was an ugly win, but they all count and Villa should take confidence from both the result and the clean sheet. Next up are Everton, a team who lost 3-0 today and like Palace have nothing to play for. That’s ideal. If Villa can win that and take things to the last day of the season, anything could happen. That must be the aim, but Villa must also recognise that they will have to beat sides offering far more resistance that the Eagles to maintain their Premier League status.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Trezeguet (Aston Villa). Wo else? It was a scrappy and sloppy affair in general, but his two clinical finishes defined the match. He had a cool head despite his side’s troubles, and it could easily have been another frustrating afternoon for Villa if not for Trezeguet.

KEY MOMENTS

7’ - DISALLOWED GOAL! Grealish gives away a cheap free kick, McArthur floats it to the near post and Sakho - relatively unchallenged - works the ball in off his back, looping over a felled Reina. VAR will have a look though and, a couple of minutes later, the verdict is that Sakho worked the ball in with his arm - although it looked like shoulder to this writer. Tight call. Very lucky escape for Villa, who defended that terribly.
30’ - CHANCE! Elmohamaday produces a good cross from the right and Samatta has a great chance - 12 yards from goal and having shaken off his marker - but heads over.
45+4’ - GOAL! Villa 1-0 Palace (Trezeguet). A Hourihane free kick is flicked on by a Palace head, but only as far as Trezeguet, whose side-footed volley from a tight angle gives Villa the lead!
47’ - NO PENALTY! The referee points to the spot initially, after Grealish goes down, but replays show he stepped on Van Aanholt's foot and somewhat stretched to do so. It's the right call - but a similar incident resulted in a penalty against Villa just a few days ago.
59’ - GOAL! Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace (Trezeguet). He's at it again! After a cross is half cleared, Palace don't deal with Hourihane's hopeful header back into the danger area and it falls for Trezeguet, who pokes past the goalkeeper.
75’ - SAVE! It opens up for Palace down their left, and Van Aanholt is suddenly racing into the box after Zaha slips him in, but Reina stays big and denies him.
78’ - CHANCE! Townsend gets to the byline and dinks a cross to the back post, where Dann looks poised to head in, but Benteke instead gets there on the stretch and loops the ball over. Dann is fuming.
RED CARD! Christian Benteke is dismissed by referee Martin Atkinson as anger spills over at the final whistle.

Christian Benteke is sent off

Image credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Aston Villa: Reina 7, Elmohamaday 6, Konsa 7, Mings 6, Taylor 6, Luiz 7, McGinn 6, Hourihane 6, Grealish 6, Trezeguet 7, Samatta 6. Subs: Targett 7, Nakamba 6, El Ghazi 5, Davis 5.
Crystal Palace: Guaita 6, Ward 5, Dann 5, Sakho 5, Van Aanholt 6, Milivojevic 5, Kouyate 5, McArthur 5, Zaha 5, Benteke 4, Ayew 4. Subs: McCarthy 5, Riedewald 5, Meyer 4, Townsend 5.

KEY STATS

  • Villa had kept just one clean sheet in their last 19 games in all competitions and that came against Sheffield United, who were infamously denied a goal by faulty goal-line technology.
  • This is Villa’s first win in 11 league games.
  • Palace have lost five matches on the bounce.
  • Trezeguet has scored five Premier League goals this season - only Grealish has more for Villa - and he is only the second Villa player to score a brace.
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