BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins scored his first Premier League goal in 10 games and midfielder Bertrand Traore added another to give them a 2-0 home win over struggling Newcastle United on Saturday (Jan 23).
It was no more than Villa deserved as they missed several chances to win by a bigger margin while the visitors lacked any edge with their midfield stifled out and unable to feed strikers Andy Carroll and Callum Wilson.
The result lifted Villa two places up to eighth on 29 points from 17 games while Newcastle dropped one place to 16th on 19 points from 19 games after a fourth successive defeat since the turn of the year.
It also stretched Newcastle’s winless run to 10 games in all competitions and piled more pressure on manager Steve Bruce, whose side were on the back foot throughout.
Watkins was delighted and conceded his barren run had dented his confidence.
“I feel like it has been a long time coming, I have been getting into the right areas and it has been frustrating,” he told Sky Sports.
“As a striker you always want to score goals, I have been unlucky and thankfully it went in today. I kept my eye on the ball and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.
“The goals will always come if I keep going in the box, it came off a defender’s shin tonight and fell for me.”
Villa pressed from the start and Watkins fired them into a 13th-minute lead as he beat visiting goalkeeper Karl Darlow to the ball and headed it in after Fabian Schaer failed to clear a low Matt Targett cross from the left.
Watkins had another effort correctly ruled out for marginal offside before Traore made it 2-0 in the 42nd, beating Darlow with a fine first-time shot off the underside of the bar thanks to a superb assist by Jack Grealish.
Villa kept up the pressure after the break as Darlow denied Watkins in the 48th minute and substitute Trezeguet in stoppage time, while Ross Barkley came close with an audacious back-heel and Grealish fired wide of the far post.