Jack Grealish scored a sensational goal on his return to the Aston Villa side. The skipper played his part in a 4-0 thrashing over Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Since his last appearance, Villa had only won two of the thirteen games in his absence.
Dean Smith handed Grealish the armband after Alan Hutton nursed an injury. John McGinn sat out the final game of a two-match ban. Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane completed the midfield, whilst Ahmed Elmohamady filled in at right-back. Jed Steer remained in goal as Lovre Kalinic was called back to the bench.
Point to prove
The return of Grealish brought fresh optimism around Villa Park, about a potential clamber for the final playoff spot. The hosts certainly started the game with a point to prove. Anwar El Ghazi raced down the left wing before crossing towards Hourihane inside the Derby box. Though his tame effort on goal was blocked by Ashley Cole, diverting the ball away for a corner within the opening minutes.
Dominating the midfield, Villa took an early advantage as a result, with Grealish playing a pivotal role. His superb ball over the Derby backline allowed Tammy Abraham to run in on goal. The Chelsea loanee’s effort was initially blocked by Scott Carson. The former Villa goalkeeper however, could only give Hourihane a better chance to tuck away his fourth of the campaign, as he rolled into an empty net.
Villa then grabbed their second on the 37th minute, as they were rewarded for a positive first-half display. Excellent work from Whelan assisted Irish compatriot Hourihane to sweep towards the right flank. Elmohamady rolled across the box for Abraham to net his 21st this season.
Villa in control
Dean Smith’s half time team talk was made even easier when Hourihane grabbed his second of the afternoon. A long ball from goalkeeper Steer was competed in the air by Abraham, who after winning his duel assisted Conor. From ten yards, he made no mistake in putting Villa in full control.
The game was won a minute later by another contender for goal of the season at Villa Park. Boyhood fan and skipper Jack Grealish marked his comeback with a beauty of a volley, from outside the box as Whelan picked him to from a corner. Villa’s talisman and leader thumped the ball into the top right-hand corner to send Villa Park into raptures.
Efforts from Tyrone Mings and El Ghazi then followed in what could’ve made the scoreline even more impressive.
Aston Villa will now travel across the second city to face Birmingham, in what will be Jack Grealish’s first appearance on rival soil.