Keinan Davis scored his first Premier League goal in stoppage time to rescue a point for Aston Villa against West Brom.
It was Villa who put themselves ahead when Anwar El Ghazi – back in from the start for Jacob Ramsey – rolled home from the penalty spot for his fifth goal in six appearances against Albion.
Ross Barkley, a surprise selection from the start, won the spot kick after Semi Ajayi bundled Villa’s loanee over after just nine minutes.
Albion, meanwhile, sent warning signs to Dean Smiths below-par Villa as the ever-bright Matheus Pereira converted from the spot to level it up. Ezri Konsa was the guilty party on this occasion after Ainsley Maitland-Niles went over with Konsa’s challenge lackadaisical.
Turkish midfielder Okay Yokuslu then headed just wide from another dangerous Pereira free-kick before El Ghazi worked Sam Johnstone from range.
Emi Martinez was then worked as Maitland-Niles tested him before it was that man again, Pereira, who cannoned Martinez’s crossbar from a curling free-kick.
Before the break, Ollie Watkins failed to get power on his header from El Ghazi’s cross while, moments after the restart, it was Mbaye Diagne who helped Albion ahead.
Johnstone’s long ball saw Konsa slip as the Senegalese advanced to take the loose ball before slotting home. His effort had taken a nick off Tyrone Mings with the Premier League awarding Villa’s stand-in skipper with the match-defining own-goal.
It was Ahmed Elmohamady, in for the suspended Matty Cash, who then tried his luck for an equaliser, glancing a header wide before Johnstone was equal to his well-struck volley.
Villa pressed for an equaliser once again with Watkins spurning a one-vs-one from an acute angle after John McGinn’s ball over the top while, up the other end, Martinez came good again to stop Konsa from putting through his own net following an Albion delivery.
The game looked to be slipping away from Villa before Smith introduced Davis with eight to go. The 23-year-old struck the outside of the post with his luck in front of goal appearing down once more.
However, it was El Ghazi’s delivery which was kept alive by Watkins before Davis showed true striker’s instinct to come alive as Kyle Bartley hesitated before poking home the equaliser in the second minute of added time.
In the end the point is one of relief for Villa with Smith’s side still in 11th, a point behind Arsenal with a game in had as we enter the final six fixtures.
Here’s how Aston Villa correspondent Ashley Preece rated the players:
Emiliano Martinez – 7
Claimed crosses into the box well enough while he had to be alert to Furlong’s long throw-ins from the right. Martinez was criticised by Mings and Konsa for not sweeping up an Albion through-ball. The Argentinian had no chance with Pereira’s spot kick. Martinez was buried for Albion’s second as well after Diagne’s finish took a nick off Mings before nestling in. Martinez came to the rescue as Albion put in a series of crosses and he scooped Konsa’s effort over his crossbar to spare his teammate’s blushes. Martinez was smart to stop Pereira’s curled effort with 15 to go, too.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
In from the start for the first time since Newcastle away five fixtures ago. You always know what you’re getting with Elmohamady and that’s a steady performance with no risks attached. The Egyptian always looked to play the simple ball. Elmohamady almost scored a goal-of-the-season contender with a sweet volley Johnstone was equal to. Prior to that it was the Egyptian who headed wide from Targett’s ball in. Elmohamady kept Callum Robinson quiet and did OK all things considered.
Ezri Konsa – 4
At fault for Albion’s equalising penalty as he brought down Maitland-Niles inside the box. Robinson spun away from him in the build up with Konsa then stopping Maitland-Niles in his tracks before Stuart Attwell blew his whistle. Konsa had a night to forget given his slip allowed Albion to get ahead with Diagne punishing him in brutal fashion seconds after the break. Tonight was Konsa’s worst performance of the season while he almost headed into Villa’s net with Martinez coming to the rescue. All over the place at times.
Tyrone Mings – 7
Ordered his teammates “to enjoy it” in the warm-up while, in terms of the action, Mings was committed as ever, winning a series of long balls up against Mbaye Diagne. Mings, though, tried desperately to keep the big Senegalese out with his shot taking a deflection off Mings as Albion went ahead. Rallied the troops until the bitter end, even when a point never seemed likely it was Mings who made sure those in claret and blue pushed and pressed Albion into submission.
Matt Targett – 5
Got forward much more this evening compared to recent weeks and looked to link up with El Ghazi and Barkley ahead of him. Targett’s balls into the box were of mixed quality while it was Pereira who caused him countless problems. Not Targett’s finest display, that’s for sure, but he kept going to make show he gave Villa something going forward. Below his usual standards.
John McGinn – 5
Deeper for this one compared to recent weeks with his passing very much off in the first half. McGinn was competitive in the challenge as he always is but lacked that quality here. McGinn picked his head up well to put Watkins away on 69 but struggled in terms of his short, five-yard passes. The Scot took a few strikes from range as he tried to add to his goal in midweek. A battling performance but Villa needed more.
Douglas Luiz – 6
Started with a real purpose and looked to link Villa’s attack. His range of passing is always on point but Albion grew into this one with Gallagher and Yokuslu getting the better of Villa’s midfield in the first half. Douglas put himself about in truth and looked desperate to get Villa ticking in the final third. Replaced by Jacob Ramsey.
Bertrand Traore – 6
Up against Conor Townsend and enjoyed some early success as he found pockets of space ahead of Elmohamady. Smacked the post in the second half and tried to provide some quality to hurt Albion. It’s not really happening for ‘Berto’ at the minute, though. Flat.
Ross Barkley – 5
Started his first match in nine as Smith threw Barkley a lifeline against Albion in a bid to get back on track. In fairness to Barkley, it was the loanee who won the penalty as Ajayi bundled him over before El Ghazi converted. Barkley’s performance was full of high-pitched groans of frustration, though, as he lacks that fluidity he previous possessed during his purple patch. The Scouser failed to take his big chance here. Had he have performed against West Brom then it would have gone a long way with the supporters. A showing that lacked confidence once again. Taken off for Villa’s goal hero, Davis.
Anwar El Ghazi – 6
Started in confident mood with a range of flicks and tricks. El Ghazi, in for Jacob Ramsey, was soon back on the score sheet as he composed himself to slot home the opener, his fifth in six matches against Albion to back up his brace at the Hawthorns in December. Kept plugging away on the left, did El Ghazi, and it was infectious but the Dutchman lacked that real quality needed.
Ollie Watkins – 7
Watkins’ hold-up play was immaculate, in truth, yet once again he had no-one of any real class to play with. Bartley resulted in kicking Watkins throughout here, with Villa’s forward urging referee Attwell to book him. Watkins was neat and tidy with his play but Albion were comfortable knowing his supply line was limited. Watkins spurned a great chance with 20 to go after being put through by McGinn. Lots of running again without reward. Watkins needs a player of Jack Grealish’s quality to play with. He’s missing that link between midfield and attack – and has been for a long old while.
Jacob Ramsey on for Douglas Luiz, 77 minutes: Played at the base of Villa’s midfield to try and add impetus to get Villa going. His impact was felt as Villa piled it on late on. 7
Keinan Davis on for Ross Barkley, 82 minutes: It’s been a long time coming as Davis fired home his first career Premier League goal. He put himself about and looked menacing with Albion struggling to contain him. Davis also struck the outside of the post before his equaliser. Star man for his cameo. 8*
Wesley on for Bertrand Traore, 90 minutes: It’s just good to see the big man back after 480 days. He almost scored the winner as well with a well-placed header that lacked power. N/A
Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Neil Taylor, Bjorn Engels, Marvelous Nakamba, Kortney Hause, Jaden Philogene-Bidace.
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, Bartley, Ajayi, Townsend; Gallagher, Maitland-Niles (O’Shea, 85), Yokuslu; Robinson (Phillips, 67), Diagne, Pereira.
Subs: Button, Robson-Kanu, Livermore, Diangana, Sawyers, Peltier, Grant.
Aston Villa: El Ghazi, penalty (9); Davis (90+2).
West Brom: Pereira, penalty (23); Mings own-goal (47).
THE REF: Stuart Attwell.
VAR: Martin Atkinson.
NEXT UP: Everton at Goodison Park; Saturday, May 1; 8pm kick-off.
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