Aston Villa have advanced to the third round to the EFL Cup after a 3-1 victory at EFL League One side Burton Albion in the second round. The Brewers took a second minute lead through Colin Daniel only to see Villa level through new signing Ollie Watkins.
It looked as if the game would go to extra time until Jack Grealish, fresh off of signing a new five-year contract, scored the winner two minutes from time with Keinan Davis adding a third in stoppage time.
Story of the game
Burton got off to the best possible start as Ryan Edwards scooped up a loose ball, turned and sent a teasing low ball across the face of the Villa goal and Colin Daniel was on the end of it to lash past Orjan Nyland.
Anwar El-Ghazi then sent in a teasing free kick that Ahmed El-Mohamady got his head on, but flashed it wide. Four minutes later, Jack Grealish played a pass into the middle, but Jacob Ramsey could only send it wide.
The 19-year old was lively and El-Ghazi provided him with another chance and he showed his youth, shooting well wide when he should have passed to Watkins instead.
The Brewers were dealt an injury blow in the 29th minute as Michael Bostwick picked up a calf injury and was replaced by Owen John Gallacher. Three minutes later, Kane Hemmings was away on the counter attack, but Tyrone Mings did well to make a good tackle.
Villa closed the first half strong as El Ghazi as his volley went wide before the visitors levelled five minutes before halftime. Grealish played a lovely pass to Neil Taylor, who cut it back for Watkins to apply a simple finish.
The chances were coming thick and fast as Edwards took a chance from the edge of the Villa box, but he didn't apply enough curl and it flashed wide. Grealish then hooked up with Watkins just before halftime and the former Brentford man struck the bar.
Six minutes after halftime, Hemmings got behind the Villa defense, but his shot was wide from a difficult angle. In the 55th minute, the Burton defense caught a break as Grealish, who was beginning to stamp his authority on the game, got a cross into the middle with no one on the end of it.
The visitors were beginning to show their class and Elmohamady sent in another inviting cross only to see Watkins not properly get onto the end of it. Kortney Hause then made a timely block on Lucas Akins' shot.
It was Burton's turn to defend as John Brayford got his body in the way of a surging Watkins. The new boy was again in a dangerous position only to see the offsides flag go up after his shot was straight at Burton goalkeeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe.
Dominating the game now, Villa searched for a late winner. Substitute Jota fired just wide from 25 yards out, but soon after Grealish was set up by Henri Lansbury from the corner and he made no mistake to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. Keinan Davis added a third in stoppage time to see off a brave Burton side.
Man of the Match: Jack Grealish
Who else? The Villa captain, who just signed a new five-year contract, was all over the place, setting up his teammates in prime position while getting into excellent spots and taking quality chances. It was fitting he scored the match winner and he showed why he deserved every bit of that new deal.
Grealish and Watkins will be a lethal duo
With prolific players such as these two, once Watkins finds his way, Villa will be hard to beat. The former Brentford man struggled to finish but he did score. His overall rustiness can be attributed to needing time to get used to the system that Smith runs. The early signs were encouraging, though.
Burton faded after a brilliant start
It was to be expected, but after taking the lead, the Brewers looked as though they may reprise their upset of 2018. They had their chances here and there, but weren't able to consistently pressure the Villa half of the field. They did show good defensive composure until the very end, but Buxton will be happy to see these displays once League One play starts up again.