An injury time penalty clinched victory for Aston Villa in a drama filled West Midlands derby at Wolves.
Anwar El Ghazi’s spotkick gave Villa their first Molineux win in nine seasons, in a game which saw both sides finish with 10 men.
Aston Villa recorded yet another away win and clean sheet, only failing to do so in one of their five away games in the league this season.
Following defeat last time out at West Ham, Dean Smith handed Jacob Ramsey his first Premier League start. The 19-year-old, who joined the Villans aged six, was involved in the game’s first talking point when his cross was blocked by the elbow of Romain Saiss after 18 minutes.
Mike Dean waved the claim away with VAR judging the ball struck the Wolves defender’s shoulder, although replays suggested otherwise. With all the decisions that have gone against Villa in recent weeks, this another one added to the list.
The game started slowly, and it took half an hour to see the first chance. A long Matty Cash throw was met by Ezri Konsa, who seen his backwards header bounce inches wide of the post.
The half sprung to life in the final 10 minutes as the hosts forced Emiliano Martinez into a number of saves, after being a bystander for most the half.
Daniel Podence was first denied by the body of Tyrone Mings before quick footwork on the edge of the box from the Portuguese man opened space to fire a shot towards the bottom corner. The Argentine shot stopper saved well with a strong left hand.
Minutes later the Villa goalkeeper was called into action when Leander Dendoncker tried his luck. The midfielder powered a shot into the body of the keeper and was denied scoring the follow up by both centre backs who threw their bodies at the ball to prevent Wolves taking the lead.
Villa avoided a scare in stoppage-time when Wolves’ record signing, Fabio Silva’s glancing header narrowly missed Conor Coady who charged in unmarked at the back post.
Smith’s men made a promising start to the second half, and had the first goalscoring opportunity five minutes in. An inviting cross from McGinn brushed the top of Watkins’ head, who was inches away from making contact.
Villa continued to dominate and thought they’d broken the deadlock via the right boot of Douglas Luiz. Grealish teased Wolves’ fullback inside the box before teeing up the Brazilian who side stepped his opponent only to see his effort flash wide.
Watkins was next to go close when he cut in from the left, only to see his shot deflect wide after a combination of a defensive block and fingertip save from Rui Patricio.
The ever-lively Podence picked out Silva after running through the middle, and the young striker struck first time across the Villa keeper, only to be denied by the inside of the post. The closest either team had come to taking the lead, having played 70 minutes.
Since signing from Arsenal, Martinez has established himself as a fans favourite and made sure the score stayed level, by fantastically saving Dendoncker’s volley after a rabona cross set him up.
Five minutes before the end, Villa were reduced to 10 men as Luiz was shown his second yellow card. After being booked early in the first half, the defensive midfielder went in with his elbow, leaving the referee no other choice but to brandish red.
Despite being a man down, Smith’s side didn’t stop battling and had their efforts rewarded with a penalty deep into injury time when John McGinn was bundled over clumsily by Nelson Semedo.
Substitute, Anwar El Ghazi, stepped up sending the Wolves keeper the wrong way, to score his first goal since January and what an important goal it was.
The drama wasn’t over as both sides finished the derby with 10 men. Experienced international, Joao Moutinho was shown his second yellow for tripping Ramsey on half way- his first career red card.
Villa held on to win their first West Midlands derby at Molineux since Robbie Keane scored a double in a 3-2 victory in January 2012.