Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton: Player ratings as Steven Gerrard's reign gets off to winning start

The Steven Gerrard era at Aston Villa got off to the perfect start as late goals from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings secured a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Brighton in the Premier League.

Buoyed by the impact of their new manager in the dugout, Villa started brightly when Matty Cash met Matt Targett's delivery at the back post to head straight at Jason Steele in the Brighton goal.

The hosts then worked a gorgeous move which sent Danny Ings through on goal from an Emi Buenda round-the-corner lay-off, but the former Liverpool man could not trap the ball under control and Steele sprung off of his goalline to smother.

Brighton did gradually begin to gain a foothold in proceedings, with Marc Cucurella - whose crossing caused Villa issues in the opening period - fizzing a pass across goal which caused panic stations in the Villains penalty box. The ball then ricoched to Leandro Trossard, but the Belgian fired straight at Emiliano Martinez.

On the stroke of half time Graham Potter's side could have broke the deadlock. Jakub Moder burst forward on the break before his cross evaded his intended target and fell to Tariq Lamptey at the back post. Again, however, Martinez was on hand to thwart the Seagulls with a fine stop.

The home side emerged from the interval with a spring in their step, going close immediately when Tyrone Mings drew a diving save from Steele from John McGinn's floated free-kick.

There were cries for a Villa penalty when Matty Cash exploded beyond substitute Solly March before going down under contact, but referee Anthony Taylor waved the hosts' appeals away.

However, patience won the day for Gerrard's side as Watkins struck the decisive blow six minutes from time. Haring forward on the break, the Englishman cut inside before keeping his composure to arrow a powerful effort beyond Steele.

Mings then added a second five minutes later when he reacted first to Adam Webster's sliding clearance, firing the ball into an empty net after Steele was left wrong-footed in the Brighton goal.

Here's how both teams rated.

Aston Villa player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

It was a feisty battle between the two sides | Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Emiliano Martinez (GK) - 6/10 - Made a couple of fine stops to deny Brighton in the first half.

Matty Cash (RB) - 7/10 - Given greater license to attack the back post when Villa poured forward, proving a threat throughout.

Ezri Konsa (CB) - 6/10 - Returned to the lineup after being suspended for the defeat to Southampton and looked sturdy alongside Mings.

Tyrone Mings (CB) - 8/10 - A more commanding performance, covering Targett well when the left back bombed forward, and was rewarded with a goal.

Matt Targett (LB) - 5/10 - Struggled against Tariq Lamptey's pace in the early exchanges, although he improved as the game went on.

2. Midfielders

Ramsey battles with Gross | Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Marvelous Nakamba (CM) - 4/10 - Tasked with receiving the ball from the Aston Villa defence, doing more without the ball than with it on the afternoon.

John McGinn (CM) - 8/10 - A trademark performance from the Scotland international, showing great tenacity in midfield and quality with his final ball.

Jacob Ramsey (CM) - 6/10 - Worthy of a start given his performances of late and impressed the new boss, although he tired in the second period.

3. Forwards

Watkins celebrates his goal | Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Emi Buendia (RW) - 3/10 - Made a cute pass through to Ings in the first half, but his influence waned in the second half.

Danny Ings (ST) - 4/10 - Chances were few and far between, but he showed great industry in his pressing from the front.

Ollie Watkins (LW) - 8/10 - A lively performance off the left hand side, constantly causing Brighton issues with his movement, and he delivered the winning goal with a fine finish late on.

4. Substitutes

Leon Bailey (RW) - N/A

Ashley Young (LW) - N/A

Anwar El Ghazi (AM) - N/A

Brighton player ratings

5. Goalkeeper & defenders

Webster battles with Targett | Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Jason Steele (GK) - 7/10 - Replaced the suspended Robert Sanchez and performed commendably, with his distribution a big plus.

Adam Webster (CB) - 6/10 - Returned after a spell on the sidelines with injury, constantly looking for Tamptey with balls over the top from defence.

Shane Duffy (CB) - 6/10 - A few erratic moments playing out from the back, but made a few crucial blocks inside the penalty area.

Lewis Dunk (CB) - 6/10 - A strong defensive showing, aggressive in his duels and limited the space infront of the defence for Villa to combine.

6. Wing-backs & midfielders

Lamptey takes on Targett | Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Tariq Lamptey (RWB) - 8/10 - Fewer deliveries than Cucurella on the opposite side, but his direct runs from deep caused Targett issues throughout.

Pascal Gross (CM) - 4/10 - Drafted in to add steel to the Brighton midfield, helping Brighton progress the ball down the flanks.

Yves Bissouma (CM) - 8/10 - A standout performance in midfield, dicating the tempo for the visitors while making a few outstanding challenges going in the opposite direction.

Adam Lallana (CM) - 5/10 - A quieter performance than he has produced in recent weeks, but there was still time for a few flicks and tricks.

Marc Cucurella (LWB) - 7/10 - Always the outlet for Brighton's given Villa's narrow midfield line, showing good quality with his deliveries.

7. Forwards

Trossard was isolated | Eddie Keogh/GettyImages

Leandro Trossard (ST) - 5/10 - As expected, didn't trouble the Villa central defence from a physical perspective, but he did work a few openings in the box.

Jakub Moder (ST) - 6/10 - Constantly dropped into midfield to overload Villa in the centre of the pitch, causing problems with his running from deeper areas.

8. Substitutes

Solly March (LWB) - N/A

Neal Maupay (ST) - N/A

Alexis MacAllister (AM) - N/A

Source : 90min