West Brom 0-3 Aston Villa: Villa run riot in West Midlands derby
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring their team's second goal which is later disallowed for offside after a VAR check during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa at The Hawthorns on December 20, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

In a West Midlands derby which had it all, an Anwar El Ghazi brace, a first half red card for Jake Livermore and a late goal from Bertrand Traore spoiled Sam Allardyce's return to football after two and a half years, as Dean Smith's Aston Villa emerged 2-0 victors against their local rivals. 

Traore's early cross to the back post was met by Anwar El Ghazi, the Dutchman finished with the outside of his right boot to beat Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and score his third goal against West Brom in four appearances against them, and would then go onto score a fourth against the Albion. 

Livermore spoiled the night for the home side, who saw red for a dangerous challenge on Villa captain Jack Grealish as he lead into a challenge with his studs high and totally missed the ball.

Story of the game

Allardyce opted for an unchanged XI who earned a point mid-week in Manchester against Manchester City, after having only a handful of days with his squad.

The appointment of the fellow West Midlander Allardyce left many Villa fans anxious ahead of tonight’s first meeting between the two sides since the 2018/19 Championship play-off semi-final at the Hawthornes, a meeting which Villa won on penalties to send them to Wembley - the rest is history. 

Though, it wasn't to be for West Brom - the early goal and sending off leaves Allardyce facing a steep uphill battle in trying to beat the drop.

Former Villan Sam Johnstone faced a plethora of shots from his former team and made several important saves throughout the game to keep the deficit down to only one goal.

Villa's Ollie Watkins did have the ball in the back of the net as the clock struck the 71st minute, though for the second time this season VAR intervened and deemed his armpit was in an offside position as Matty Cash's cross was delivered into the box.

Takeaways from the game

Anwar El Ghazi is back. After scoring Villa's winning goal against local rivals Wolves and impressing against Burnley as he builds up match fitness - El Ghazi announced his return to Villa's starting XI for the second consecutive game with a bang. 

Scoring a brace, the Dutchman caused Johnstone plenty of issues throughout the evening - forcing the keeper to make a handful of big saves which ultimately wasn't enough for the Baggies.

Allardyce shown flexibility in his approach, keeping Villa guessing in the final ten minutes as he brought on Premier League veteran Branislav Ivanović and changing to a back three, as West Brom looked to chase the game. 

Charlie Austin and ex Villan Callum Robinson came on late in West Brom's late attempt to salvage something - Villa's resilience saw them double their lead with a cultured finish from Traore, who stroked the ball past Johnstone so nonchalantly.

Late on Grealish was brought down in the box by Semi Ajayi, Villa's newest penalty taker El Ghazi stepped up with ice in his veins and calmly dispatched of his penalty down the middle, sending Johnstone flailing to his right.

Man of the match

Bertrand Traore: Scoring and assisting, Bertrand Traore is settling in well at Aston Villa and proving he's a valuable addition to Dean Smith's squad. 

El Ghazi is another contender for man of the match, scoring two goals - though, Bertrand Traore's influence on the game tonight was vital in Villa leaving with three points.