Aston Villa struck twice in the first half in a comfortable victory over struggling Newcastle as Dean Smith's side moved up to eighth in the Premier League table.
Newcastle - now without a win in their last 10 in all competitions - made the worst possible start. Thirteen minutes in, Ollie Watkins took advantage of slack defending to give Villa the lead. Matt Targett had too much space to deliver the cross, Fabian Schar sliced his clearance and Watkins was braver than goalkeeper Karl Darlow to head Villa in front.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors three minutes before half-time when Bertrand Traore doubled Villa's tally. Newcastle failed to clear their lines from a corner, Traore played a one-two with Jack Grealish before finishing with a shot that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar. Dean Smith, sitting in the stands following his red card in the defeat to Manchester City, must have loved what he was watching.
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There was no response from Steve Bruce's side after the restart, as Villa continued to boss the game and created the better chances despite not getting out of second gear.
Allan Saint-Maximin was introduced off the bench for his first appearance in two months after a battle with coronavirus but he failed to make the desired impact as Newcastle fell to a fourth consecutive defeat. They drop a place and are now 16th.
TALKING POINT - Newcastle's problems continue to mount
Two points from a possible 24. No goals in four games. No win in 10. Newcastle's confidence is absolutely shattered, their form is shocking and the signs are omnious.
Steve Bruce's side finished with 11 more points than Villa last season, but it's blatantly obvious which side is on the up and which is in a precarious state of free-fall. While Villa have committed to a breathtaking attacking, rapid style of football, Newcastle have been one-paced and one-dimensional for some time now. While the Magpies' cutting edge in attack has been well documented - they haven't found the net in over six hours - problems in their crumbling defence are mounting.
Remarkably, seven points separates Newcastle from the drop. But Fulham, who occupy 18th, are clearly the better side and the other strugglers are at least showing fight. The Magpies haven't tasted victory since beating West Brom in mid-December, and on this performance it's difficult to see where the next goal is coming from let alone when this awful run is going to end.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Bertrand Traore (Aston Villa)
With four goals in his last six league appearances, Traore is only growing in confidence and is clearly adapting well to English football. He's a breath of fresh air with his direct running, quick feet and desire to get into scoring positions.
Aston Villa: Martinez 7, Cash 7, Konsa 7, Mings 7, Targett 6, Luiz 7, Nakamba 6, Grealish 8, Barkley 7, Traore 9, Watkins 8. Subs: Trezeguet N/A, El Ghazi N/A, Ramsey N/A.
Newcastle: Darlow 4, Manquillo 5, Schar 4, Lascelles 5, Lewis 5, Hayden 5, Shelvey 4, Hendrick 5, Almiron 5, Wilson 5, Carroll 5. Subs: Saint-Maximin 5, Gayle N/A, Fraser 5.
13' - GOAL! Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle (Watkins): Villa are ahead! More misery for Newcastle. Not for the first time, Targett gets far too much space on the flank to deliver a low cross. Schar doesn't get enough on his sliding clearance and Watkins pounces to end his goal drought and give the hosts the lead.
42' - GOAL! Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle (Traore): That should do it! Newcastle fail to clear their lines from a corner, and it's lovely football from Villa as Traore plays a one-two with Grealish and fires it into the top corner off the post. Much, much too easy for Villa.
- Only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (4) has scored more headed goals than Ollie Watkins in the Premier League this season, with Watkins netting 50% of Aston Villa's headed strikes so far this term (3/6).
- Newcastle are winless in eight Premier League games (D2 L6), losing their last four in a row for the first time since May 2018
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