Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle: Hourihane spoils Bruce's return to Villa Park
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Aston Villa eased the pressure between them and the bottom three as Conor Hourihane scored, and later made another before half-time.

Story of the match

In an all too familiar sight for Steve Bruce, the player he signed from Barnsley two years ago stood over a free-kick before wheeling away in celebration moments later.

It was Jack Grealish who won the free-kick on the edge the box, before Hourihane did what he does best, bending the ball beyond goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Four minutes later and Villa’s lead was doubled with Hourihane involved once more. His dangerous delivery from another dead ball was this time converted by Anwar El Ghazi, his third of the campaign.

In search of a third after the break, it was Ezri Konsa who came the closest to doing so on his full Premier League debut.

Unmarked, the former Brentford man could only hit the Slovakian goalkeeper from yards out after connecting with Grealish’s corner.

Villa’s talisman was excellent throughout, no wonder Villa hadn’t managed to get any sort of points without him in the side.

Bruce’s Newcastle United lacked a cutting edge to open a steady Villa backline who claimed their third clean sheet of the season.

Takeaways

It’s not too late for a Grealish call up

With EURO 2020 looming, Gareth Southgate will have a good idea of who’s on the plane and who is not.

Although, Grealish’s talismanic performance once more demonstrates his ability to run a game of Premier League football.

On a personal level, Grealish will be gutted to miss out on a call up before the final squad is announced.

Newcastle are in murky waters

After two wins in their previous two before tonight, you would’ve thought that'd give a spring to Newcastle's step but at Villa Park, but they lacked invention and quality to get back in the game. Goals will be a problem for Bruce’s men this year.

Praise for Hourihane

It’s not the first time a Conor Hourihane free-kick has set Villa up for three points whether it be in the Premier League or the Championship.

The Irish international is capable of stealing the spoils through his technique alone. With Grealish pushed outside the midfield vicinity, Hourihane has since made the central position is own.

Man of the Match

The difference-maker on the night. Capable of winning a game and nicking a goal when it’s needed, Hourihane demonstrated all his qualities against a poor Newcastle side

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