Aston Villa’s fine run of form continued as they beat Crystal Palace and kept a clean sheet despite playing for more than 45 minutes with 10 men after Tyrone Mings’ sending off.
Villa were already leading when Mings was dismissed by referee Anthony Taylor towards the end of the first half for a foul on Wilfried Zaha – six minutes after both players had been booked for clashing.
In an incident-packed game, Villa claimed an eighth clean sheet of 2020-21 – and moved to within three points of second-placed Leicester City.
Burkina Faso winger Bertrand Traore, who also hit the post, put Villa ahead when he was left unmarked to pounce after Vicente Guaita had beaten away an attempt by Ollie Watkins.
Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez had set the tone for an entertaining match with a fine save to keep out Zaha in the opening minute, while Guaita twice denied Anwar El Ghazi as well as Jack Grealish.
Palace looked to take advantage of Mings’ dismissal but instead conceded two more goals.
Defender Kortney Hause nodded the second after Watkins had headed against the bar before Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi lashed home the third with a quality finish.
Hard-working Villa look the business
Having avoided relegation on the final day of last season, Villa are now up to sixth in the table, with two games in hand over Leicester, after making it three wins in four.
Their latest victory was built on grit and a determination not to let Mings’ red card disrupt them.
The England defender can have few complaints about his dismissal, sticking out an arm to block Zaha’s attempt getting away from him, not long after the pair had clashed following a challenge.
If anything, Mings’ loss galvanised Dean Smith’s side, who produced a thoroughly professional performance to win at Villa Park for the first time since thrashing Liverpool 7-2 on 4 October.
Former Chelsea player Traore was excellent before he was substituted earlier than planned following Mings’ dismissal, while the hard-working Watkins twice hit the woodwork and El Ghazi produced a moment of pure class with his goal.
Villa’s recruitment has been impressive. Traore has looked an excellent piece of business, having joined for £17m from Lyon in September, while Martinez – who also cost £17m, from Arsenal – continues to impress in each game.
With his side down to 10 men, Martinez produced a big save to keep out Luka Milivojevic’s deflected attempt.
Both teams have a short turnaround before they are back in action on Monday, with Aston Villa away at Chelsea (17:30 GMT) and Crystal Palace hosting Leicester City at 15:00.
More to follow.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key = Give it up = Pure perfection
- 5MingsBooked at 45mins
- 6Douglas LuizSubstituted forRamseyat 90+1′minutes
- 15TraoréSubstituted forKonsaat 45+4′minutes
- 21El GhaziSubstituted forEl Mohamadyat 86′minutes
- 27El Mohamady
- 2WardBooked at 68mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 15SchluppSubstituted forTownsendat 82′minutes
- 4MilivojevicBooked at 56minsSubstituted forRiedewaldat 69′minutes
- 18McArthurSubstituted forBatshuayiat 75′minutes
- 25EzeBooked at 83mins
- 11ZahaBooked at 39mins
- 9J Ayew
Match ends, Aston Villa 3, Crystal Palace 0.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 3, Crystal Palace 0.
Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Andros Townsend.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Matthew Cash (Aston Villa).
Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Patrick van Aanholt.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Jacob Ramsey replaces Douglas Luiz.
Attempt missed. Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Eberechi Eze.
Attempt saved. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Michy Batshuayi.
Attempt missed. Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left.
Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Attempt saved. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Grealish with a through ball.
Foul by Joel Ward (Crystal Palace).
Matt Targett (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Ahmed El Mohamady replaces Anwar El Ghazi.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matthew Cash (Aston Villa).
Attempt saved. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jairo Riedewald.
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).