Aston Villa 3-0 Crystal Palace: Ten man Villa humiliate the Eagles at Villa Park
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Anwar El Ghazi of Aston Villa celebrates with teammates Kortney Hause, Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park on December 26, 2020 in Birmingham, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images)

Aston Villa's relentless nature saw Dean Smith's side beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at home despite playing with 10 men for more than half of the game. 

Tonight proved to be a difficult evening for Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace, who failed to respond to their 7-0 thrashing against Liverpool.

Dean Smith named the same starting XI who beat local rivals West Brom 3-0 before Christmas despite Ezri Konsa and Ross Barkley reportedly being available for the fixture. 

Bertrand Traore continued his red-hot streak of form, scoring inside the fourth minute as Vincente Guaita parried a shot from Ollie Watkins back into his box. Bertrand arrived late but made the most of the opportunity with his right foot. 

The winger wouldn't see out the whole game, though, as he made way for Konsa when Tyrone Mings saw red as the second half came to a close.

Story of the game

Bertrand came close to doubling Villa's lead, as the winger unleashed a left footed strike which rattled off the far post after comfortably beating Guaita. The winger also set captain Jack Grealish through on goal only minutes later with a wonderfully weighted pass, but Villa's captain failed to beat Guaita.

It's not often that VAR gets the decision right, which had many Villa fans worried when Patrick Van Aanholt was brought down inside the box. VAR spent around three minutes assessing whether Matty Cash had fouled Van Aanholt, but it ultimately decided no foul was committed by the fullback.

Palace weren't without their opportunities in the first half. A Luka Milivojević free kick won as a result of a foul by John McGinn on Wilfred Zaha tested Emiliano Martinez for the first time since the first minute. Martinez was able to catch the Serbian's effort from just outside the 18-yard box. 

Tensions ran high before half time as Mings accumulated his first yellow card of the afternoon for a stamp on Zaha, who'd just committed a foul on Villa's McGinn. 

Not long after Mings saw his second for a foolish push on Zaha as Palace looked to counterattack. For all of Villa's first half dominance, Dean Smith's men faced a tough uphill battle in the second half. 

Goal scorer Traore was unlucky to make way for Konsa as Villa aimed to remain solid at the back going into the final 45 minutes. 

Villa were relentless in their approach to the second half, attacking Palace as they were in the first - which came as a surprise given Palace's one-man advantage. 

El Ghazi and Watkins both worked tirelessly to double their lead and allow Villa some breathing space in the game. 

Palace would see another opportunity in the form of a Milivojević free kick which wasn't able to beat Villa's wall this time round. 

Villa's approach saw them gain their second goal of the evening on the 66th minute as a result of an El Ghazi freekick, which Watkins met at the back post - his header rattled off the crossbar and defender Kortney Hause capitalised and buried the rebound to double Villa's lead. 

El Ghazi put the hosts 3-0 up with a tremendous strike which clipped the inside of the post and went in, which served as further proof that the winger is undoubtedly enjoying his football at the minute.

Watkins hit the post later on as Villa continued to toy with Palace. The striker will feel very unlucky not to walk away with a goal given the effort the forward put in tonight.

Takeaways from the game

Dean Smith finally has players he can rely upon within his squad who may not always feature in the starting XI each week. 

Korney Hause stepped in for the then-ill Konsa against West Brom and looked assured next to Mings and managed to keep his place in the side and score an important goal in the game. 

After signing for £3 million following Villa's promotion and making a few cameo's in Villa's fabled 10 match winning run, Hause has proved to be one of the most underappreciated bits of business Villa have done in recent years. 

Anwar El Ghazi's wonderous goal, accompanied by a handful of top-drawer performances in recent weeks, also speaks true to the point about Hause. 

Many Villa fans had already written off El Ghazi, but the winger proved tonight he's firmly put himself back in the starting XI for weeks to come.

As for Palace, they had to make a change to chase the game - Hodgson brought on Jairo Riedeweld for Milivojević in an attempt to move the ball quicker in midfield. 

Sitting back and allowing Villa to play was their downfall given the players Palace had started. Had they have been more aggressive in their approach they could have taken the game to Villa. 

Man of the match - Ollie Watkins

The forward ran the channels all night and came close to scoring on multiple occasions. 

Watkins did the work of two players tonight and continues to set the tone for how Villa look to attack teams and wear them down throughout the game. 

Watkins hit the bar in the build-up for Villa's second goal and the post later on as Villa could smell blood. His £33 million price tag looks like a bargain more and more as the games go by. 

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