Premier League
Aston VillaAston Villa2NewcastleNewcastle United0

Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle: Villa win on Steve Bruce's return

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport
El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi's goal was his fourth of the season for Aston Villa, with all four coming in home matches

Aston Villa ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats as they beat Newcastle United to ruin Steve Bruce's return to Villa Park.

Conor Hourihane's curled free-kick gave Villa the lead before his enticing set-piece set up Anwar El Ghazi to finish from close range four minutes later.

Bruce, sacked as Villa boss in October 2018, saw his side denied by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who saved from Federico Fernandez and Allan Saint-Maximin.

The win takes Villa up to 15th place.

Newcastle would have moved up to ninth with a win, but the defeat keeps them 14th, one point ahead of Villa.

Newcastle undone by free-kicks

Bruce laments 'passive' Newcastle performance

Newcastle paid the price for some defensive indiscipline as they conceded twice from needless free-kicks just after the half-hour mark.

A two-handed push right on the edge of the penalty area from DeAndre Yedlin on Jack Grealish, who had got the wrong side of the Newcastle right-back, led to the opener.

Hourihane nudged the stationary ball to Grealish, who stopped it and, from the better angle, the Republic of Ireland midfielder curled the ball around the wall and into the net.

The lively Grealish, back after missing three games with a calf injury, saw a fine run crudely ended when he was brought down by a clumsy Federico Fernandez challenge, again just outside the 18-yard box.

Grealish made the difference - Smith

This time Hourihane - back in the Villa side after being an unused substitute in the loss to Wolves - was the provider as his excellent delivery was steered in by El Ghazi.

The Netherlands winger thought he had scored Villa's third before half-time, but he slightly mis-timed his run onto a John McGinn pass and was adjudged offside after putting the ball into the net.

Grealish was a constant threat with his dribbling ability and came close to getting the goal he deserved but curled over from 15 yards after neat link-up play with El Ghazi.

Wesley should have added a third in the 77th minute but failed to beat Martin Dubravka from close range but Villa, who had been beaten in successive Premier League matches by Manchester City, Liverpool and Wolves, suffered no late scares and collected three points.

Matt Targett
Aston Villa defender Matt Targett vomited on the pitch in the first half, but still managed to play the 90 minutes

An unhappy return to Villa Park for Bruce

This was Bruce's first game on the touchline at Villa Park since he was sacked by the club just over a year ago, when they were in the Championship.

He had a two-year spell in charge of the Birmingham club and nearly took them into the Premier League - losing in the play-off final in May 2018 - but lost his job after a poor run saw a section of the fans turn against him.

Before Monday's game Bruce described his final days as Villa's boss as "one of the most unsavoury times of my career", culminating in a fan throwing a cabbage at him in his last match in charge.

There was to be no happy return to Villa Park after his side fell two goals behind, with Heaton in fine form.

The England keeper, who held a Jonjo Shelvey free-kick when it was goalless, preserved Villa's advantage with an excellent reaction stop to push Fernandez's header over the bar at the end of the first half.

Steve Bruce
Bruce was in charge of Aston Villa from October 2016 to October 2018, winning 46 of his 102 matches, drawing 25 and losing 21

He then produced a good save low down to his left to keep out a well-struck effort from Allan Saint-Maximin and was well placed to deny Isaac Hayden.

Bruce, who received a polite if unenthusiastic reception from Villa's fans before the match, brought on striker Andy Carroll in an attempt to get back in the game and the former England man did well to volley on the turn but his effort was straight at Heaton.

Dwight Gayle also came on for the ineffective Joelinton but could not make an impact in a disappointing evening for Bruce and Newcastle.

'Entitled to chuck cabbages at his team' - analysis

Former Aston Villa striker Chris Sutton on BBC Radio 5 Live

"I think Steve Bruce will feel humiliated. He would have been quite entitled to chuck cabbages at his own team at half-time.

"Villa really deserved their victory. They needed the three points, they got the three points and Dean Smith got his performance.

"It was important Villa stepped up and played with confidence after three defeats.

"Newcastle helped them immensely by the fact they were so passive. Villa did have to weather a little bit of a Newcastle storm at the start of the second half but it was a big performance and they're back on track."

Man of the match - Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa)

Conor Hourihane
Jack Grealish was also excellent but Conor Hourihane gets the nod for scoring one goal and making another. Since the start of last season, he has been involved in more league goals for Aston Villa than any other player currently at the club - nine goals and 13 assists (excluding play-offs).

More set-piece joy for Villa - the stats

  • Aston Villa's last four Premier League goals have come from set-pieces, while four of the last five Premier League goals Newcastle have conceded have come from set-pieces.
  • Jack Grealish (two goals, four assists) has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Aston Villa player this season.
  • Conor Hourihane scored his fifth goal of the season in all competitions, but this was his first at Villa Park.
  • Aston Villa ended their 12-game winless run against Newcastle in the league, with this their first victory against the Magpies since a 1-0 win in April 2011.
  • Newcastle conceded two goals in a league game against Aston Villa for the first time since February 2008 (a 4-1 defeat) - indeed, Villa scored as many goals as they managed in their previous seven encounters against the Magpies.
  • Villa have won four of their 13 Premier League games in 2019-20 (drew two, lost seven), one more than they won in all of their previous top-flight season in 2015-16 (three).
  • Newcastle have lost 13 of their last 16 Premier League games played on a Monday (won two, drew one), failing to score in 11 of those matches.
  • Steve Bruce has lost three of his last four games in all competitions against sides he's previously managed (drew one), losing each of his last two such games against Aston Villa.
  • Newcastle's Miguel Almiron has had more shots without scoring than any other player in the Premier League this season (22) - the Paraguayan is still yet to score his first goal (41 shots) or register his first assist (22 chances created) in the competition.

'Really pleased with the clean sheet' - what they said

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith speaking to Sky Sports: "This is a really tough league and we have just gone through a period of playing Manchester City and Liverpool, which were games I thought we actually played well in.

"The table is so tight but you need to put a run together, be tough to beat and keep a clean sheet. I'm really pleased with the clean sheet as we haven't had too many of those this season.

"Our form has been good; we knew it would be hard, but I think we've been competitive. It takes time to gel defensively but we achieved that against Newcastle."

On goalscorer Conor Hourihane, Smith added: "I explained to Conor why I left him out against Manchester City [on 26 October]. He has scored goals in every league he's played in and I always had him earmarked to come back in and he showed us what he was about."

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce told Sky Sports: "The first half in particular we did not do enough with or without the ball. We felt we were harshly done by with two free-kicks, but the way Conor Hourihane has executed them made it a difficult night.

"Conor is very good, I have seen it many times and he has the accuracy and power to score. The second one, our defenders have to defend better, too many stood and watched it.

"The game was gone in two minutes although we had chances before and after half-time when Tom Heaton made some good saves.

"Jamaal Lascelles [out with a knee injury] is our captain and has been playing very well. Last week the defenders were excellent but you are always going to miss your best players."

What's next?

Villa now have a tough run of fixtures, with two successive away games - at Manchester United on Sunday and then Chelsea on Wednesday, 4 December - before a home game against second-placed Leicester City.

Newcastle entertain reigning champions Manchester City on Saturday, before an away match at Sheffield United on Thursday, 5 December.


Aston Villa

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Heaton
  • 24Guilbert
  • 15Konsa
  • 40Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 14HourihaneSubstituted forLansburyat 90+1'minutes
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 9WesleyBooked at 80mins
  • 10Grealish


  • 8Lansbury
  • 11Nakamba
  • 17Trézéguet
  • 25Nyland
  • 26Kodjia
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 30Hause


Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Dubravka
  • 22Yedlin
  • 18FernándezBooked at 35mins
  • 2Clark
  • 3DummettSubstituted forCarrollat 63'minutes
  • 15Willems
  • 24AlmirónSubstituted forAtsuat 79'minutes
  • 14Hayden
  • 8Shelvey
  • 10Saint-Maximin
  • 9JoelintonSubstituted forGayleat 72'minutes


  • 5Schär
  • 7Carroll
  • 12Gayle
  • 17Krafth
  • 26Darlow
  • 30Atsu
  • 43M Longstaff
Lee Mason

Match Stats

Home TeamAston VillaAway TeamNewcastle
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Aston Villa 2, Newcastle United 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, Newcastle United 0.

  3. Post update

    John McGinn (Aston Villa) hits the left post with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Tyrone Mings.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. John McGinn (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jack Grealish following a fast break.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Christian Atsu (Newcastle United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by DeAndre Yedlin.

  6. Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Henri Lansbury replaces Conor Hourihane.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Isaac Hayden.

  8. Post update

    Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Christian Atsu (Newcastle United).

  10. Post update

    Foul by Wesley (Aston Villa).

  11. Post update

    Federico Fernández (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Tyrone Mings following a set piece situation.

  13. Post update

    Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Jetro Willems (Newcastle United).

  15. Post update

    Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Isaac Hayden.

  16. Post update

    Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United).

  18. Booking

    Wesley (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Wesley (Aston Villa).

  20. Post update

    Jetro Willems (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.


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