Aston Villa kept their slender Premier League survival hopes alive with a deserved 2-0 victory over a lethargic Crystal Palace at Villa Park on Sunday.
Mamadou Sakho capitalised on some shoddy Villa defending to guide the ball home from a corner, but a lengthy VAR review (very) harshly viewed the goal as handball - despite the ball hitting his shoulder - and ruled the effort out.
As a sluggish and sloppy first half neared its conclusion, Trezeguet fired the hosts in front after Conor Hourihane's free kick found its way to the Egyptian deep in stoppage time. It looked like getting better for Villa seconds after the restart, but Jack Grealish was denied a penalty after VAR ruled against the referee's initial call for a foul by Patrick van Aanholt.
Villa were much improved from their first half showing, and grabbed a second on the hour mark when Trezeguet stabbed home after being found by Hourihane. It was smooth sailing from thereon in, with Villa securing three potentially vital points in their quest to beat the drop.
Key Talking Point
It's hard to make a case for Villa deserving to stay in the Premier League. Their forwards haven't done enough - obviously discounting Grealish - their midfield isn't dynamic enough and their defenders are simply not Premier League quality.
It's still up in the air whether or not they can avoid the drop this season, but they won't face a side as uninterested as Palace again, that's for sure. The limp display the visitors put in played into their hands, even if it took them far too long to capitalise on it.
However, Villa's issues haven't been in the final third, but the first third. Their defence has been shoddy at best, even if they were rarely troubled on Sunday. You could make a case for this being one of Villa's better performances all season, but context is required: Palace were abysmal.
As much as this may buoy Villa, it looks like it could be too little too late.
Aston Villa Player Ratings
Starting XI: Reina (7); Elmohamady (7), Konsa (7), Mings (6), Taylor (5); McGinn (5), Luiz (7), Hourihane (8); Trezeguet (8*), Samatta (5), Grealish (7).
Substitutes: Targett (6), Nakamba (7), Davis (6), El Ghazi (N/A).
Villa's wide players haven't offered enough this season, with not enough goals or influence on matches partly why they find themselves in the position they're in.
But with Trezeguet's performance on Sunday, you wonder why that is. The Egyptian was a menace all afternoon, and showed great composure and technique for both his goals. Where has that been all season?
Key Talking Point
With four defeats on the spin heading into Sunday's clash, Palace were probably just as aware as everyone else that their best chance of picking up points between now and the end of the season was against Villa. They've been slipping down the table ever since the restart and, sadly, they don't seem too bothered about it.
The lack of intensity and commitment shown on Sunday, particularly in the first half, would have infuriated Roy Hodgson and any Palace fans watching on. They looked disinterested, disheartened and arrived already thinking about where their next holiday would be.
Such a miserable end to the season will do little to encourage the supporters, nor any players contemplating joining the Eagles in the summer. With Manchester United, Wolves and Spurs up next, it could be a case of them losing their final eight league matches. Yes, they were hard done by thanks to VAR, but that only papers over cracks.
Crystal Palace Player Ratings
Starting XI: Guaita (4); Ward (4), Dann (4), Sakho (4), Van Aanholt (4); Kouyate (4), Milivojevic (3), McArthur (3); Zaha (4), Benteke (3), Ayew (4*).
Substitutes: McCarthy (3), Riedewald (4), Townsend (4) Meyer (3).
This was an exceptionally rubbish showing from the visitors, with the whole team doing, well, nothing.
But then there is Jordan Ayew, who too did nothing, but at least he actually ran around. Still did nothing, mind you.
Jordan Ayew is so rubbish— Marvin ??? (@marvinxfunkyman) July 12, 2020
Everton at Goodison Park is up next for Villa in their quest for safety, while Palace host high-flying Manchester United at Selhurst Park
Source : 90min