EPL

Ollie Watkins brace leads Aston Villa to victory at Fulham

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Ollie Watkins’ double helped Aston Villa to a 2-1 victory over a spirited Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The striker took his Premier League tally to 12 for the season and was the difference maker for Unai Emery’s men in west London.

Fulham’s Rodrigo Muniz scored his fourth in three games but Villa dug in during the second half to claim all three points.

Villa fired an early warning shot when Watkins’ goal was chalked off for offside. John McGinn slipped the attacker through but the linesman deemed him to have moved too soon as Fulham avoided an early scare.

Muniz started over illness-stricken Armando Broja up front and the Brazilian looked to continue his rich vein of form, getting on the end of Andreas Pereira’s through ball before firing his effort over the bar.

After Fulham had a goal of their own ruled offside from a set-piece, Villa punished a series of errors and took the lead.

The usually reliable Antonee Robinson had a moment to forget when his throw-in put Willian under immense pressure at the back before Watkins powered the winger off the ball, marauding into the box and drilling his effort past Bernd Leno into the left-hand corner.

Fulham’s sloppiness continued and Leon Bailey looked to inflict more misery on Robinson. The pacey Jamaica international turned the left-back inside out with intricate skill before his curved strike cannoned off the bar, much to the relief of Marco Silva’s men.

The visitors turned the screw and doubled their lead through the clinical Watkins.

Villa’s number 11 caught Issa Diop napping, finding a gap to get on the end of Youri Tielemans’ pass before he picked his head up, paused and blasted his effort into his favourite left-hand post to claim a brace.

But after 63 minutes Fulham scored on the break to blow the game wide open.

Robinson redeemed a poor a first half with a golden delivery from the left into the six-yard box, finding Muniz who poked the ball past Emiliano Martinez to give the Cottagers hope.

Silva turned to the bench in the form of Alex Iwobi and Adama Traore.

Iwobi, fresh from his Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Nigeria, forced Martinez into action with a driven shot across goal before Traore ghosted Alex Moreno and tested the Villa defence with a dangerous cross.

Traore went one-on-on during five added minutes but was denied by Martinez.

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