Aston Villa ease to victory over Newcastle on Steve Bruce's return to Villa Park
Aston Villa moved four points clear of the relegation zone after a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle to ruin Steve Bruce’s return to Villa Park.
Conor Hourihane gave the home the side the lead with a spectacular free-kick, before Anwar El Ghazi doubled their advantage four minutes later.
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That immediately sparked chants from the home fans of 'Brucey, Brucey what's the score?' as they taunted their former boss was sacked 14 months ago.
The away side rarely troubled the Villa goal as the home some cruised to victory, which takes them up to 15th, a point and a place behind Newcastle.
Jack Grealish returned to skipper Aston Villa following a four-week lay-off with a calf injury, while Tom Heaton and Matt Targett were also back in the starting line up.
On his return to Villa Park, Steve Bruce had Ciaran Clark fit after the Republic of Ireland defender shook off a knock sustained on recent international duty.
Dean Smith’s side started brilliantly and could have gone ahead through Anwar El Ghazi, but the winger didn’t gamble on Targett’s delightful low cross into the six-yard box.
In the 20th minute, just as he prepared to take a throw-in for Villa down the left wing opposite Newcastle's 18-yard box, Targett vomited on the pitch.
Following his release of the ball, the left winger then threw up violently on the touchline, falling to his knees in doing so.
After treatment and a drink of water, the summer signing from Southampton was able to continue.
Martin Dubravka denied Villa the lead on the half-hour mark with a fantastic save. Douglas Luiz, who picked up the ball 25 yards out, curled a strike towards the top corner, but the Newcastle keeper at full stretch tipped it over the crossbar.
Villa took the lead in the 32nd minute and did so superbly through a Conor Hourihane free-kick.
Grealish was shoved in the back by DeAndre Yedlin a yard outside the area to win it, before the Republic or Ireland international curled in perfectly around the wall and into the bottom corner, following a neat routine with his captain.
Villa doubled their lead four minutes later, again after Grealish had drawn a foul.
Hourihane turned provider this time, whipping the ball into the six-yard box where El Ghazi was on hand to stab home.
That immediately prompted cries from the Villa fans of 'Brucey, Brucey what's the score?' as they taunted their former manager, who was sacked nearly 14 months ago.
Newcastle came close to pulling one back just before the break. Jonjo Shelvey’s corner was met by Federico Fernandez whose header into the ground was denied by a flying save from Heaton.
Newcastle came flying out of the blocks after the restart and almost pulled one back immediately.
Allan Saint-Maximin curled one from 25 yards out which was nestling into the far corner, but for Heaton’s brilliant intervention low to his left.
The game should have been beyond doubt in the 52nd minute, but Dubravka kept the Magpies in it.
Ezri Konsa, completely unmarked and six yards out, won the header from Grealish’s corner, but the 30-year-old somehow made the save.
Konsa almost turned one into his net eight minutes later, throwing his leg at a Saint-Maximin cross which came inches away from ending up in the top corner.
Grealish was next to see his low strike gathered by Dubravka, before substitute Andy Carroll took one on the chest, turned and volleyed down the other end, but Heaton too was equal to his effort.
Wesley should have put the game to bed but somehow he managed to miss from five-yards out following Hourihane’s ball into the middle. The striker’s lazy finish was straight at the Newcastle keeper.
Villa saw out the game to take a comfortable 2-0 win and with it ended a run of three straight defeats.
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