Dean Smith labelled Aston Villa’s brilliant win over Newcastle as “a building block in the right direction” and praised striker Danny Ings for his sublime deadlock-breaking finish.
Ings leaped high to send his bicycle kick beyond Freddie Woodman before the break before Anwar El Ghazi added a second on the hour mark from the penalty spot.
Villa, though, were fortunate to be level with Steve Bruce’s side after Callum Wilson missed a glaring one-on-one while El Ghazi’s spot kick came via a VAR decision from Jarred Gillett after Jamaal Lascelles’ handball.
Smith, meanwhile, refused to get too carried away with Villa’s first win of the season.
Speaking to BirminghamLive , he said: “I thought it was an OK performance but a better result. It was much better to last week where we lacked intensity.
“Fans were never going to allow us to lack intensity today and it’s nice to get a win in front of our fans.
“It was a hardworking performance. We had to battle. We had to scrap at times and we’ve had some decisions go our way as well.”
He added: “It’s going to take time for a lot of teams to find their feet. We had a rush last year with the Euros, Copa America, Olympics so it’s been a staggered pre-season through the pandemic for a lot of clubs.
“Unfortunately, players are at different levels in terms of their fitness. Today was a building block to where we need them to be. But it’s a building block in the right direction because it was better than last week – although it didn’t take much to be better than the first half last week.”
On two-in-two forward Ings, Smith commented: “Listen, we’ve seen him score a 20-yarder into the top corner here last season so we certainly know the type of goals he can score.
“It was a super finish and one that will probably be in the list already for goal of the season even though it’s the second game.
“It’s what we needed, the goal, because they put ourselves under pressure and we put them under a bit of pressure. It didn’t look like the deadlock was going to get broken until something like that happened.”
Elsewhere, the boss was asked about Matty Cash’s long throw which aided Ings’ opener after the Tyrone Mings flicked it into the ex-Southampton man’s path.
“Matty Cash has always had a long throw so Austin (MacPhee) has come in and utilised what’s on offer there,” Smith added.
“Ty’s gone up and won a great first header and Danny Ings has done what he’s done to ourselves and a lot of other clubs before. It’s great to see him in a Villa shirt scoring a goal like that.”