Douglas Luiz double boosts Villa's hopes for top four

24 Feb 2024
Douglas Luiz cele

Brazilian scores twice in a 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest to move five points clear of fifth place

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Aston Villa 4-2 Nottingham Forest External Link
Villa 4-2 Forest External Link

Aston Villa cemented their hold on fourth place with a 4-2 victory against a resilient Nottingham Forest to go five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in fifth. 

Goals from Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz twice made it 3-0 inside 39 minutes. However, Moussa Niakhate reduced the deficit half-time. The comeback was on for Forest as Morgan Gibbs-White scored early in the second half, but Leon Bailey’s goal on 61 minutes was enough to make it back-to-back wins for the home side.

How the match unfolded

Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo made one change as Niakhate replaced Nuno Tavares, while it was an unchanged line-up from Unai Emery.

It took only four minutes for Villa to take the lead through Watkins. Bailey went on a magnificent run down the right, nutmegging Murillo, before finding Watkins, who had the simple task of tapping home at the back post for his 14th goal this season. Only Mohamed Salah has been involved in more Premier League goals than Watkins this season. 

Watkins goal

Shortly after, Villa nearly doubled their lead. A quick interchange between Jacob Ramsey and Alex Moreno, resulted in a cutback for Watkins, whose goalbound strike was blocked by Niakhate.

But it didn’t take long for Villa to double their lead and again it came down the right. Matty Cash pulled the ball back for Ramsey, who passed to Douglas Luiz and he fired into the bottom corner. 

In the 39th minute, Douglas Luiz made it 3-0, grabbing his second by heading in John McGinn’s cross from close range. It meant that all nine of the Brazilian's goals have come at Villa Park this season. 

Douglas Luiz header

In the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time, Niakhate grabbed one back for Forest, chesting home Taiwo Awoniyi’s header from a corner for his first goal for the club.

Niakhate goal

At half-time Villa were forced by injury into another defensive change when Pau Torres was replaced by Calum Chambers, meaning Unai Emery was playing his fifth and sixth-choice centre-backs.  

Forest took advantage and started the second half fast, Gibbs-White making it 3-2 on 48 minutes. The midfielder latched on to substitute Divock Origi’s brilliantly disguised through-ball before clipping the ball over Emiliano Martinez

Gibbs White

The visitors were soon in again as Origi played another brilliant pass to Anthony Elanga, who dragged his shot, missing a golden opportunity to draw his side level. 

Just as Forest hopes of an equaliser were rising, Villa regained their two-goal lead. A successful press of the away side’s passing out from the back got the ball to Youri Tielemans, who slipped in Watkins. His shot was saved by Matz Sels, but the ball fell to Bailey, who had an empty net to finish in.  

Forest still continued to threaten and nearly scored when substitute Ryan Yates’ shot from Gibbs-White’s free-kick went agonisingly.

Forest remain in 16th place on 24 points, four clear of the relegation zone.

Club reports

Aston Villa report | Nott'm Forest report

Title race

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
1 Man City MCI 32 +44 73
2 Arsenal ARS 32 +49 71
3 Liverpool LIV 32 +41 71
4 Aston Villa AVL 33 +19 63
View More

Relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
16 Everton EVE 32 -16 27
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 33 -16 26
18 Luton LUT 33 -24 25
View More
Next five Premier League fixtures
Key facts

 Aston Villa have won 17 of their last 20 home Premier League games, scoring 49 goals in this run. They have, however, conceded two or more goals in each of their last four such matches at Villa Park.

Since their return to the Premier League last season, Nottingham Forest have won just three of their 32 away league games, while their 21 losses on the road is the most of any side in the division during this period.

Aston Villa have lost just one of their last 15 home league games against Nottingham Forest and are unbeaten in eight since a 2-0 loss in October 1994.

All nine of Douglas Luiz's Premier League goals this season have come at Villa Park; only two players - Georginio Wijnaldum in 2015/2016 with 11 and Les Ferdinand in 2000/2001 with 10 - have scored more in a single Premier League campaign with 100% coming at home.

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