Watkins double lifts Aston Villa into top four

Ollie Watkins’ return to form continued with a double that lifted Aston Villa into the top four with a 2-1 win at Fulham. 

Villa took advantage of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers to go into the top four with 49 points. 

Fulham were unchanged while Unai Emery made two enforced changes – the injured duo of Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara were replaced by Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans.

After a stop-start opening, Watkins claimed his 12th Premier League goal of the season, capitalising on a poor Fulham throw to pick up the ball from Jacob Ramsey before swivelling and drilling the ball past Bernd Leno in the 23rd minute. 

Leon Bailey almost doubled the lead five minutes later with a brilliant bit of skill and then shot, but his dipping effort struck the bar. 

Alex Moreno also came close to scoring Villa’s second but he was adjudged to be offside before heading in from Watkins’ flick-on. Just before half-time Watkins broke clear and set up Tielemans but Leno came out well to smother his shot and keep the visitors’ lead at one goal at the break. 

Fulham started the second half well after Willian was replaced by Alex Iwobi on the Nigerian’s return from the Africa Cup of Nations. But Villa grabbed their second goal on 56 minutes, again through Watkins. The striker was found by Tielemans’ through-ball and finished with aplomb. 

Out of nowhere Fulham got a goal back. Antonee Robinson outpaced Matty Cash down the left and crossed, and Rodrigo Muniz got to the ball ahead of both Emiliano Martinez and Clement Lenglet at the near post to score his fourth goal in three matches.

Fulham came close to an equaliser from a sweeping move that ended with Iwobi shooting from close range, but Martinez, having dived the wrong way, stopped the shot with his legs before Harry Wilsonshot wide. 

Fulham continued to threaten but substitute Adama Traore was also unable to beat Martinez in stoppage time. The Cottagers remain 12th with 29 points. 

Source :premierleague

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