Aston Villa and the latest of many

Villa’s win over Ajax in the Uefa Conference League has Dave Woodhall more than pleased.

When it comes to getting a bad result out of your system, there’s no better way than a routine, convincing win against one of the great names in Europe. Ajax certainly aren’t what they used to be, in fact in terms of the mighty falling, at the moment they’re on a par with Preston North End and the Wanderers, but no matter. They’re still a big name, as the sold-out and at times frenzied crowd at Villa Park testified.

The scene was set with a team selection that seemed destined to ensure that there would be goals, although at which end wasn’t certain. At last, not until kick-off, because Villa tore into the visitors from the start. They seemed determined to put last Sunday’s performance behind them and didn’t take long to start creating chances, with Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey both unlucky early on. From one of these opportunities Douglas Luiz put over a corner that was perfectly met by Ollie Watkins and Villa were a goal up after 25 minutes.

Watkins had already been booked and had lengthy treatment after colliding with the keeper and getting booked for his troubles; he was taken off not long after the goal with what we can only hope wasn’t a serious injury but this is the Villa and open heart surgery will likely be the result.

Jhon Duran was his replacement and we had fifteen minuets of his excitable puppy act, with another couple of chances and a general air of bemusement as to what he’d do next. Sadly there was no end product and the closest we came to another goal before half-time was when Matty Cash did well with a goalline clearance with almost the last kick before the break.

Youri Tielemans replaced Morgan Rogers for the second half, which was a wise move because Rogers had already been booked and the referee seemed as though he wanted to make a name for himself. On the hour Douglas Luiz won the ball, laid it off and a bit of what for anyone else would be magical control but for Leon Bailey was a matter of routine. Two-nil, game over.

Six minutes later the inevitable red card came for a second booking, Ajax were a man short and Villa made the most of it. The most predictable moment of the game occurred on 74 minutes, when Bailey and Diego Carlos were replaced by Tim Iroegbunam and Clement Lenglet. I said to the bloke next to me that I thought it was the wrong move, so naturally within seconds Villa scored again, this time Duran finally putting one of his chances away via the crossbar. If he was the player most needing a goal Moussa Diaby wasn’t far behind and he duly got one with a neat run and finish.

There were only ten seconds of stoppages, which is unheard of by domestic standards but perhaps the ref had a plane to catch and in any case, no amount of added time would have made a difference to the result. We were through to the quarter-finals and in the words of Unai Emery, Villa Park is made for nights like this. You can guarantee there will be more of them in the future.