Aston Villa made it eight wins from eight thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over promotion rivals Bristol City.
The game got off to a frenetic start and it was the away side who got the first glorious opportunity when Matty Taylor found himself unmarked at the back post but he somehow, to the relief of the Villa defence, failed to hit the target.
Minutes later, Villa had their own glorious opportunity to take the lead – Anwar El Ghazi forced Max O’ Leary into a save and the rebound came quickly to Albert Adomah, whose header hit the post and was eventually cleared to safety.
The Robins thought that they had taken the lead when Andreas Weimann’s fine header found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed as he was fractionally offside.
Villa took the lead in the 54th minute when Hourihane was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. It was probably a harsh call if we are being honest, but Tammy Abraham didn’t care and dispatched the penalty.
The home side doubled their advantage 7 minutes later when Hourihane found the bottom corner after some neat play from El-Ghazi.
Bristol City, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and they pulled a goal back in the 74th minute when Famara Diedhiou found the bottom left corner to give the Villa fans a nervy last 15 minutes or so.
However, Dean Smith’s men were able to hold on and they collected three valuable points that helps to cement their spot in the top six.
Here is how we rated the players for today’s game against Bristol City:
GK: Jed Steer - 7
Didn’t have much to do as Bristol City’s only shot on target was the one that went in (and he could do nothing about that). He communicated well with his defenders and made sure they knew where the danger was.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady - 6
Got caught out a number of times, with one time leading to McGinn having to pick a yellow up for the team. However, it wasn’t a poor defensive performance overall and he put in a number of tasty crosses.
CB: Mile Jedinak - 8
Jedinak was asked to play centre-back due to Mings’ suspension and Chester’s and Hause’s injuries and he was very good today. He won nearly everything in the air and put his body on the line when needed.
CB: Axel Tuanzebe - 7.5
Was always calm and composed when in possession of the ball and was not bullied by the physicality of Diedhiou. Rarely let anyone get the better of him.
LB: Neil Taylor - 8
Taylor has stepped his game up lately and he put in another very good performance today. He was defensively sound and got forward to help El Ghazi whenever he could.
RM: Albert Adomah - 6
Caused a few problems in the first-half and was unlucky to see his header hit the post. He faded out in the second-half though.
CM: Glenn Whelan - 7.5
Whelan was very good in front of the back four and mopped up the majority of the loose balls. He also made some splendid passes to start attacks.
CM: John McGinn - 8
Once again, Mcginn covered every single blade of grass tenfold. He was always the first on the scene to try and win the ball back and he provided the cross that led to the penalty.
CM: Conor Hourihane - 7.5
If it weren’t for two fantastic saves by Max O’Leary, Hourihane could have had a hattrick today. Took his goal extremely well and won the penalty for Villa’s first goal.
LM: Anwar El Ghazi - 8.5
El Ghazi caused Hunt all sorts of problems and provided the assist for Hourihane’s winning goal. The majority of his crosses were on point as well. Hunt will be having nightmares about him tonight.
ST: Tammy Abraham - 7
Didn’t get many chances to have a shot on goal in open play, but he held the ball up well and slotted his penalty home with confidence. Went off injured just after the 70 minute mark.
SUB: Keinan Davis - 6.5
Came on for Abraham with 18 minutes of normal time remaining and caused the Bristol City defence a number of issues. Could have got on the scoresheet as well.
SUB: Henri Lansbury - N/A
Came on in the 80th minute, so didn’t have much time to make an impact on the game. Good to see him back though.