Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard said his side’s scrappy win over Southampton at Villa Park was a “big victory”.
Villa secured only their second Premier League win of the season as Jacob Ramsey scored the only goal of the game, and Gerrard said his side reacted to the criticism they had faced.
“It wasn’t pretty or stylish but, with where we were in the league, we knew we had to do it in a pragmatic way,” said Gerrard.
“I’m really proud of the boys’ effort, application and commitment. We played better than we did last time. In football, you have to grind and fight and be committed and we worked hard today.
“We will get better in terms of style and possession and that will come but tonight was about the points.”
Gerrard’s side have made an indifferent start to the campaign but they were able to build on the battling draw against Manchester City with a deserved victory.
He added: “We had to back up our performance against Manchester City and there were a lot of eyes on us from the TV but we did it.
“Maybe we tried to force it a bit tonight but as we move up the table, maybe that’s when the pretty stuff will come. It has been a tough period but I’ve wanted to step forward and protect my players.
“I’ve tried to fight and move up this table. We have accepted a lot of criticism and it’s about reacting and that is what we have done tonight.”
Villa made nearly all the running in a game desperately short on quality and Ramsey broke the deadlock four minutes before the break after Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu turned Ollie Watkins’ header on to the bar.
Southampton were far too timid and barely offered a threat all night, allowing Villa to close out an important triumph, their first since the second league game of the season against Everton, in comfort.
Villa grind out vital win
Aston Villa managerGerrard turned to his backroom staff with fists clenched at the final whistle. It was a signal of just how much he and his team needed this win.
It was, to be brutally honest, a dreadful game lacking in quality, but Gerrard will not care as Villa will take wins any way they can get them at the moment after a poor start to the season led to discontent among their supporters and scrutiny of the manager.
Villa started to rebuild when they took a point off Premier League champions Manchester City in their last home game, making further progress here with a win essential.
The winning goal from Ramsey was scrappy, totally befitting such a poor game, and was more than enough to see off Southampton, who hardly gave Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez an anxious moment all night, with Tyrone Mings dealing easily with any rare aerial threat.
It was not pleasing on the eye but Villa fully merited the win which will put Gerrard, his players and the club in a much more optimistic frame of mind heading into the international break.
Tame Saints get what they deserve
Southampton’s timid approach should mean they reflect on this defeat at Aston Villa as an opportunity missed.
Villa’s confidence would have still been fragile after their recent struggles, despite that good result against Manchester City, and an early goal – or even some early concerted pressure – could have played on nerves in the home crowd.
Instead, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side allowed Villa to set the tempo as their captain John McGinn crunched into some early challenges and Philippe Coutinho offered up occasional moments of class while Saints struggled for any rhythm.
Che Adams and Adam Armstrong hardly got a look in as Southampton barely created even half chances, the visitors’ lack of attacking ambition and intent costing them dearly as the game was won by that one moment near the end of the first half.
Hasenhuttl’s Southampton sides pride themselves on energy and intensity but there was precious little on show here on a night they will want to quickly forget.
- 18YoungBooked at 90mins
- 41J RamseyBooked at 58minsSubstituted forDendonckerat 67′minutes
- 44KamaraSubstituted forDouglas Luizat 44′minutes
- 31BaileySubstituted forBuendíaat 67′minutes
- 23CoutinhoBooked at 45minsSubstituted forIngsat 84′minutes
- 6Douglas Luiz
- 15PerraudSubstituted forLarios Lópezat 45′minutes
- 8Ward-ProwseBooked at 82mins
- 27DialloSubstituted forAriboat 45′minutes
- 24ElyounoussiSubstituted forEdozieat 79′minutes
- 9A ArmstrongSubstituted forS Armstrongat 71′minutes
- 10AdamsSubstituted forMaraat 71′minutes
- 17S Armstrong
- 28Larios López
- Tony Harrington
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Southampton 0.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, Southampton 0.
Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by John McGinn (Aston Villa).
Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Danny Ings (Aston Villa) left footed shot from more than 40 yards on the left wing misses to the left. Assisted by Emiliano Buendía following a fast break.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Ollie Watkins.
Ashley Young (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Ashley Young (Aston Villa).
Samuel Edozie (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Danny Ings (Aston Villa).
Armel Bella-Kotchap (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ashley Young (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Danny Ings replaces Philippe Coutinho.
James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
Substitution, Southampton. Samuel Edozie replaces Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Attempt saved. Sékou Mara (Southampton) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Joe Aribo with a headed pass.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by James Ward-Prowse.
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