It’s six goals in seven days for Tammy Abraham as he helped Aston Villa dismantle Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough at the Riverside. The hosts had only conceded ten goals prior to Villa’s visit, but the away side ran riot. They beat Middlesbrough 3-0 with goals from James Chester, Abraham and Glenn Whelan.
Impressed with Anwar El Ghazi’s contribution off the bench in mid-week, Dean Smith dropped Jonathan Kodjia for the Dutchman. Whilst Ahmed Elmohamady started for the suspended Alan Hutton.
Villa dominated Boro in the opening exchanges. The away side kept the ball well with both wingers attacking the flanks and creating chances for Abraham. The Chelsea loanee had his first sight on goal within the first 15 minutes, as Yannick Bolasie tore down the left side. Leaving Stewart Downing and Dael Fry for dead. Bolasie pulled back his cross, but Tammy’s effort was met by an alert Darren Randolph in the Boro goal.
Minutes later, it was Abraham causing the hosts problems once more. The in-form forward stole the ball under George Friend’s tackle inside the box. But the Boro full-back fouled Abraham. With neither the referee or linesman spotting the infringement.
However, the away side would make their pressure count, breaking the deadlock on the 20th minute. Jack Grealish’s in-swinging corner found its way to Chester who turned in from the back post. Since appointing a set-piece coach, Smith’s Villa side have certainly profited from dead ball situations.
After a brief spell of dominance from the hosts, Villa was well worth their slender advantage at half-time. Middlesbrough went into a chorus of boos from sections of the Riverside.
In what was an almost perfect first period, Villa continued to impress. Too hot to handle, Bolasie once more got the better of Fry. He beat the centre-half with ease before flashing a dangerous cross past the face of goal. Without a touch at the far post, the away side would then only have to wait ten minutes to double their lead.
The influential Bolasie picked the ball up on the edge of the Boro box after John McGinn looked forward. Bolasie again drove a cross towards Randolph’s goal, and this time Abraham poached to score his eleventh goal in 14 appearances.
To Villa’s credit, after shipping five in their last game they conceded very few chances for the hosts to get back in the game. And when they did – Orjan Nyland kept the clean sheet intact. The Norwegian’s reflexes preserved the two goal advantage as Jordan Hugill’s strike was pushed onto the underside of the crossbar, all before Villa added a third.
Putting Middlesbrough to the sword
Replacing Abraham, Scott Hogan burst onto the scene with confidence. The former Brentford man drove towards Aden Flint with pace before striking at Randolph, but with little power, the goalkeeper parried away before the ball fell to Conor Hourihane. The Irishman assisted his countryman Whelan, whose strike at goal was fumbled by Randolph to gift a third to Villa.
Dean Smith labelled the 5-5 draw to Nottingham Forest as a “freak result”, adding “it’s very rare that you’ll see five shots and five goals”. Now his side has kept four clean sheets in eight. The free-scoring form the Villains find themselves in will help in a congested, tricky festive period.