Matt Targett and John McGinn scored to keep up Steven Gerrard’s perfect start at Aston Villa as they ended Crystal Palace’s seven-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
Villa displayed their defensive solidity under their new manager again to follow up last weekend’s 2-0 win over Brighton, and did not concede a single shot on target until the final 10 minutes against an under-par Palace side whose performance was labelled “really disappointing” by boss Patrick Vieira.
They took advantage of the hosts’ dreadful record from set-pieces to take an early lead after 15 minutes, with Targett’s finish from Ashley Young’s delivery the eighth goal the Eagles have conceded from corners this season – a Premier League high.
Ollie Watkins was denied what appeared a strong shout for a penalty shortly before half-time but there was better news from the officials for Villa in the second period, when Douglas Luiz was initially shown a red card by referee Michael Salisbury before reviewing his decision on the VAR monitor and rescinding the dismissal.
They had their new manager smiling again as McGinn, later described by Gerrard as “outstanding”, netted a wonderful first-time effort from 20 yards to wrap up victory, and, despite Marc Guehi’s injury-time consolation for the hosts, back-to-back wins have lifted Villa to 11th in the table, behind Palace only on goal difference.