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Smith explains Aston Villa change as plans are made for Arsenal

Mini match report

Aston Villa blew a two-goal lead within a frantic 15 minutes at Villa Park as Ruben Neves’s deflected free-kick off Matt Targett won it in stoppage-time.

Villa thought they were home and hosed when John McGinn – via a Neves deflection this time – whacked home what looked like a match-killing second to add to Danny Ings’ header not long after the restart.

However, Wolves began their fight-back just 12 minutes after McGinn’s strike when Romain Saiss converted Daniel Podence’s low cross at the far post.

Bruno Lage’s men continued to press as Villa looked tired and frustrated before the comeback kicked into another gear.

It was Leander Dendoncker’s ball in that was eventually converted when Conor Coady got the final touch as Axel Tuanzebe – drafted in for Kortney Hause from the start here – couldn’t clear as the ball scrambled in.

In the fifth minute of added time, Neves went for it with a free-kick from 25 yards as his effort cannoned off Targett which upended Emi Martinez in the Villa goal before the Wolves end went wild.

In the end it was poor game management from Dean Smith’s side who lose their first at Villa Park since May.

Read Ash Preece’s Villa player ratings here as McGinn impresses & Axel struggles

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What Dean Smith said

“We weren’t sure Douglas would last as long as he did (67 minutes), so we just felt in that period it was the right time to bring Marvelous Nakamba on.

“That certainly didn’t affect the scoreline and, if anybody was going to score next it looked like it was going to be us from open play. Unfortunately, we’ve conceded from set-plays.

“I’m still trying to process it because we were comfortable and it was a travesty we’ve lost the game because apart from Traore’s run they never looked like they were going to score.

“They’ve had three set-pieces, two of them from corners and they’ve put them into the box and we’ve won the first contact. It was just the second phase where we went to sleep a little bit. Whether that’s a lack of concentration I don’t know.

“It certainly didn’t feel like there wasn’t a momentum shift, there wasn’t a tactical change in the game. It was just the fact they were brighter from the second phase at set-pieces and they scored goals from that.”

READ: Dean Smith bemoans the Aston Villa ‘travesty’ of a result

What the opposition manager said

Wolves chief Bruno Lage

“It’s games like these that made me want to continue my career in England, and in the Premier League,” Lage said. “The games are until 90 minutes, and today it was until 95.

“This is the kind of environment I want to live in and today if you look at what we did in the 90 minutes, I didn’t think we deserved to lose. I think also that Aston Villa didn’t deserve to lose – both teams made a good game, which I expected.

“When the other team have the ball, they will create problems for the opponent. I think we did that also. In the same way Aston Villa had a bit of luck when they scored their second goal, we have the same luck when we scored the third goal.

“In the end, what we’re trying to do this season, the three points are very good for us.”

What the Villa fans made of it

Abu Dhabi Villa: Throwing away a 2-goal lead, at home, to a rival – you literally couldn’t get more peak #AVFC. I’m glad I’m old enough to just chuckle and sagely nod to myself ‘that’s my Villa’..

The Class of 1982: Infuriating no 2 ways about it but it’s done. Just got to move onto the next.

Adam Summersby: Said it at the start of the season, we will be a stronger and better side second half of the season, but no matter what, THAT cannot happen.

akavfc : Can’t blame the manager and can’t blame the tactics this one’s down to the players they have to take full responsibility for that.

FPL Villan: Have to question the bottle and desire of the team. How on earth do you concede 3 late goals to a really s*** team that offered nothing?

Jack Villan: Time to put 5 at the back in the bin and stop shoe-horning players in. Watkins just isn’t at it this year and a stint on the bench would probably do him good

Up next for Villa

They go to Arsenal next Friday night. The Gunners play on Monday against Crystal Palace, so Villa will have a couple of days of preparation on their hosts.

Villa have fond memories of the Emirates – they hammered Arsenal 3-0 there last season.

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