No stopping Ings as Saints beat Villa

By SFC Media time Sat 21 Dec Aston Villa v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Danny Ings and Jack Stephens
Sat 21 Dec 3PM
Premier League
Aston Villa
Grealish [75']
Ings [21' 51'] Stephens [31']
El Ghazi (67') Kodjia (87')
yellow card
Ward-Prowse (44')
Referee: Craig Pawson | Venue: Villa Park | Attendance: 41,834

Danny Ings moved on to 13 goals for the season as Southampton put Aston Villa to the sword with a dominant display at Villa Park.

The in-form striker moved into double figures for league goals (who remembers the other two?) with his first of the game in the 21st minute, following up Shane Long’s well-saved shot to break the deadlock.

His brilliantly-taken second goal would arrive six minutes into the second period, by which time Jack Stephens had already doubled Saints’ lead with a first-half header.

It means Ings’s purple patch extends to seven goals in seven games, becoming the first Saint since Sadio Mané four seasons ago to reach double figures in the top flight.

The visitors, rarely threatened since taking the lead, were denied a welcome clean sheet by a moment of inspiration from Villa captain Jack Grealish 15 minutes from time, but never looked like relinquishing such a position of strength, and now leapfrog their hosts to move three points clear of the relegation places.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made one enforced change to his starting line-up, replacing the injured Moussa Djenepo with the fit-again Stuart Armstrong on the right side of midfield.

It would prove a tricky start for the home team, as James Ward-Prowse lined up an early free-kick that hit the target, but was not close enough to either corner to trouble Tom Heaton.

Then came an innocuous injury to influential midfielder John McGinn, who went down in pain after blocking a clearance from Cédric, forcing a substitution in just the seventh minute, as the wonderfully named Marvelous Nakamba took his place.

Villa, undeterred, created the first notable chance through a familiar source. Matt Targett’s dangerous low cross found its way through to Anwar El Ghazi at the far post, but Alex McCarthy was quick to shut down the angle.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Danny Ings(R) celebrates with Shane Long both of Southampton, after scoring during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton FC at Villa Park on December 21, 2019 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Front pairing Shane Long and Danny Ings combined to put Saints in front

Back came Saints, as Ryan Bertrand fizzed in a cross that found Long perfectly placed four yards out, but the ball came to the Irishman at such pace that it flew over the crossbar when he met it on the forehead.

Then El Ghazi delivered a low ball into the box that deserved a better finish from Wesley, who skewed the chance wide.

This was a very open game, and it came as no surprise when the deadlock was broken in the 21st minute. Even less surprising was the identity of the goalscorer.

Nathan Redmond’s ball over the top deceived Bjorn Engels, who was never going to recover the situation against the pace of Long, who found himself bearing down on goal.

Denied by a smart save from Heaton, low to his left, Saints had the last laugh as Ings followed up to reach the loose ball just ahead of Targett, tapping in his 10th Premier League goal of the season.

Hasenhüttl would have been pleased with the way his team stayed on the front foot and pushed for a second.

A flowing move down the right involving Ings and Armstrong paved the way for Stephens to break forward and cut through the defence, keeping his composure to cut the ball back for Long, who was only thwarted by a last-ditch tackle.

Then Long met Redmond’s cross from the left with a downward header looking for strike partner Ings, which almost resulted in defender Kortney Hause diverting the ball past his own keeper.

Saints were the team in the ascendancy and Villa could have few complaints when Stephens headed number two on the half hour with a fine glancing touch from a typically wicked Ward-Prowse delivery.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Nathan Redmond of Southampton jumps on the back of Jack Stephens(scorer) as they celebrate their teams second goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton FC at Villa Park on December 21, 2019 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Jack Stephens and Nathan Redmond celebrate the defender's goal

The two goals had sucked the life out of a previously boisterous Villa Park crowd, as the visiting Saints fans made all the noise and the natives grew increasingly restless at their side’s charitable defending.

Right-back Frederic Guilbert did unleash a shot in anger in first-half stoppage time, of which there was four minutes due to McGinn’s early injury, but McCarthy helped it on its way over and Saints found themselves in a commanding position at the interval.

The hosts did emerge after the restart with renewed vigour, as Grealish’s dancing feet created an opening that Saints managed to diffuse through sheer volume of numbers, but any optimism was punctured when Ings pounced again six minutes into the second half.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s crisp, low, driven cross-field pass found Redmond wide on the left, and when Villa failed to clear the ex-Birmingham man’s cross, Ings was there with a sublime first-time finish on the turn on his less favoured left foot, high into the far corner beyond the beaten Heaton.

Villa looked a defeated bunch. Redmond set about inflicting further punishment on his former rivals, firing into the side-netting as the Saints contingent on the far side celebrated what they thought was number four.

Instead their side would have some defending to do after Grealish reduced the deficit with a stunning dipping shot from 20 yards that just gave his team a ray of hope as they attacked the famous Holte End.

Hasenhüttl immediately sacrificed Armstrong for Oriol Romeu to short things up, while Michael Obafemi was a straight swap for Long to maintain a pacey threat up front.

With six minutes left, Saints spurned the opportunity to kill the game once and for all, as a three-on-two break resulted in Heaton denying Ings the matchball, if not the headlines.

Aston Villa

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Aston Villa

Tom Heaton (GK)
Björn Engels
Kortney Hause
Matt Targett
Frederic Guilbert
John McGinn
replace Marvelous Nakamba (8′)
Conor Hourihane
replace Jonathan Kodjia (56′) yellow card
Douglas Luiz
Anwar El Ghazi yellow card
replace Trézéguet (68′)
Jack Grealish (C) goal
Jonathan Kodjia
Marvelous Nakamba
Henri Lansbury
Ahmed El Mohamady
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo
Ørjan Nyland


Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jack Stephens goal
Cédric Soares
Ryan Bertrand
Jan Bednarek
Nathan Redmond
James Ward-Prowse yellow card
Stuart Armstrong
replace Oriol Romeu (76′)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Danny Ings goal goal
replace Che Adams (87′)
Shane Long
replace Michael Obafemi (82′)
Maya Yoshida
Sofiane Boufal
Angus Gunn
Michael Obafemi
Che Adams
Jannik Vestergaard
Oriol Romeu