Aston Villa continued their fine start to their season with a convincing 3-0 win over relegation-favourites Fulham.
Villa did all the damage in the first half and took a 2-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes thanks to Jack Grealish’s fourth-minute strike and Conor Hourihane’s arrowed effort.
In the second 45, Fulham’s defending was shambolic once more as Tyrone Mings was allowed to slide home goal number three from Hourihane’s delivery as American defender Tim Ream failed to step up in time.
Villa have now won their opening two games of a Premier League season for the first time since 1999 as they face off against Liverpool next Sunday before the international break.
Here’s how Villa correspondent Ashley Preece rated the players at Craven Cottage:
Very good with his feet, immaculate. Kept talking to his defence and told Matty Cash off for letting Joe Bryan deliver a cross in for Mitrovic. Claimed well from high crosses. Fumbled one which allowed Bobby Reid to poke home, only for VAR to rule it our for a foul in the build-up. Saved brilliantly from Bryan late on to register back-to-back clean sheets. 7.5
Always an out-ball, pressed high up the pitch – too high at times as it left Konsa isolated when he looked for a short pass. Tackled well and used the ball well, especially linking up with McGinn inside of him. Crossed well from deep to Grealish in the second half, too. Put in block after block. His stiffest battle’s up next against Liverpool next Sunday. 7.5
A class act, just oozes confidence. Loved the rough and tumble of playing against the bull-like Mitrovic. He kept feeling the Serb and relished the physical battle. Didn’t see him lose a single header, either. Becoming a bit of a MVP at Villa. 8.5
Villa’s voice once more. He manages the game on the pitch for Villa, telling players there’s just one minute left before half-time and for them to not be stupid. Dishes out a rollicking often, too, just to keep his teammates in check and fully focused. A leader among men, is Mings, who grabbed his first goal since that deflected strike against Watford at Villa Park, sliding home Hourihane’s delivery completely unchallenged. Almost scored a second with five left. 9*
Booked for a late challenge on Tete not long in. Fulham kept going down Cash’s side in the first half rather than Targett’s. The left-back did well. He won a few heads, nodding them down to Hourihane who’d mop up to keep the ball. Always works well with Mings next to him. 7
Was raging with himself after misguiding a header to Hourihane, losing the ball in unfamiliar fashion. Ticked by and played the easy, five-yard passes. Martinez ushered words of wisdom to him in Spanish as the first-half petered out. A quiet yet comfortable game for Villa’s classy Brazilian. 7
Finally, it’s the John McGinn of last season we’ve all been craving for. The Scottish midfielder must just love playing in London after his exploits last season. Put in a cute and clever reverse ball into Grealish for the opener while, for the second, he used his body well to set Hourihane to strike home. McGinn was at the heart of everything good. It’s nice to have him back and, as Dean Smith said, it’s like having a new signing. Brilliant, Ginny. Everywhere. 9
Pressed and probed as he always does in the heart of midfield. His work-rate got the rewards when he spanked home McGinn’s set into the far right-hand corner with, wait for it, his weaker right foot. Tidy in possession and his decision making was good. The Irishman’s coming into his own. Assisted Mings’ goal, too. Quality. 8.5
Ran his socks off in true Trezeguet-like fashion. Not much end product but he helped Villa drive forward to pin Fulham back. Didn’t give American left-side Tim Ream a moment’s peace. A workhorse. 6.5
His wait for his first Premier League goal rolls into week three. Bossed Denis Odoi throughout the first 45. Raced away to spank an effort high into the stands when well picked-out by Grealish. Physically fantastic. Quick, aggressive. 7
“Come onnnn!” he screamed as he slotted past the advancing Areola to put Villa ahead after just four minutes. Villa’s skipper opened his Premier League account for the year ahead as he targets double figures. The No.10 did brilliantly for Villa’s second, too, taking a super-quick throw-in, playing a one-two with Watkins before advancing to pick out McGinn who set Hourihane to finish. Grealish really enjoyed himself out there. Took a whack in the first half and was bandaged up for the second half. Won’t be risked against Stoke. Probably a dead leg. Should have scored a second late on but he opted to go with his right foot instead of his left. 8.5
On for Hourihane for the last 15 minutes for his Premier League debut. A fully deserved big-league bow after starring in the Carabao Cup. The 19-year-old’s a class act and slotted in well alongside Douglas Luiz and McGinn. 6.5
Replaced Trezeguet with seven minutes left. Played out on the right side. No time.
Came on for Douglas Luiz with three left. No time.
Subs not used: Steer, Elmohamady, Hause, Davis.
Fulham: Areola, Tete (Kamara, 39), Hector (Le Marchand, 58), Odoi, Bryan, Zambo, Ream, Cairney, Reid (Kebano, 79), Ivan Cavaleiro, Mitrovic. Subs: Knockaert, Rodak, Onomah, Robinson.
The ref: Stuart Attwell.
Next up: Stoke City (h), Carabao Cup last-16, Thursday, October 1, kick-off 7pm.