Digne's late header gives Villa crucial victory at Luton

By Layton Ryan-Parson 2 Mar 2024
digne celebrates

Substitute strikes in the 89th minute to give Unai Emery's side a hard-fought 3-2 win

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Aston Villa recovered from a Luton Town fightback to snatch a late winner at Kenilworth Road that consolidated their hold on fourth place. 

Having seen Tottenham Hotspur close to two points off their position with a turnaround victory at home to Crystal Palace earlier in the day, Villa seemed in control as they went 2-0 up through a first-half double from in-form Ollie Watkins. But the home side fought back through goals from Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris.

However, two of Unai Emery’s substitutes combined as Moussa Diaby crossed to Lucas Digne to head in the winner in the 89th minute as Villa maintain their five-point gap over Spurs ahead of a huge encounter between the two sides next Sunday. 

The race for Europe

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
4 Aston Villa AVL 33 +19 63
5 Spurs TOT 32 +16 60
6 Newcastle NEW 32 +17 50
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How the match unfolded

Rob Edwards made one change to his Luton side as Andros Townsend replaced Cauley Woodrow, while Emery also made one change as Ezri Konsa came in for Pau Torres.

Villa made a quick start and Jacob Ramsey went close with a chested effort from a Leon Bailey cross, before Luton lost a defender after only six minutes as Amari’i Bell limped off.

Bailey then fed Watkins, whose shot towards the near post was saved by Thomas Kaminski. And from the ensuing 24th-minute corner delivered by Bailey, Watkins had time to head in.

Villa almost instantly got a second through Bailey and Watkins combining again, with the Jamaican releasing his team-mate, who shot across goal and hit the far post.

Watkins continued to torment Luton with his second goal in the 38th minute, latching on to Douglas Luiz’s quick free-kick over the top before whipping the ball clinically into the far right corner. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but a VAR check showed he had timed his run perfectly.

Watkins 2nd goal overturn

It took Watkins’ tally to 16 Premier League goals, only one behind top scorer Erling Haaland in the race for the Castrol Golden Boot. He also has scored nine away goals, a feat only Dwight Yorke has managed for Villa in a season, in 1997/98.

A heavy home defeat looked on the cards at half-time, but Luton were transformed after the break, getting on top in midfield and testing Villa’s defence with a steady stream of balls into the box.

The hosts got their reward in the 66th minute as Villa failed to clear from a corner and Matty Cash was forced into a goalline block, with Chong following up to score.

Six minutes later it was 2-2 as Alfie Doughty delivered another splendid set-piece, whipping in a free-kick from the left which Carlton Morris at the far post volleyed low past Emiliano Martinez.

Luton looked the likelier side to score a late winner but in the final two minutes of normal time Diaby delivered a moment of brilliance, swinging in a left-footed cross for left-back Digne to head in powerfully and send the visiting fans in rapture.

digne goal

Villa maintain their five-point gap over Spurs, with 55 points. Luton remain in 18th spot, four points adrift of safety with a match in hand on Nottingham Forest

The relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
14 Crystal Palace CRY 32 -17 33
15 Brentford BRE 33 -11 32
16 Everton EVE 32 -16 27
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 33 -16 26
18 Luton LUT 33 -24 25
Club reports

Luton Town report | Aston Villa report

Next Premier League fixtures
Key facts

Villa have won three successive away Premier League games for the first time since January 2023, in what was their first three such matches under manager Unai Emery. Meanwhile, it is the first time that the Villans have recorded three consecutive away victories while netting two or more goals in the competition since November 2007.

Luton have lost each of their last three Premier League home games, while it is the first time that the Hatters have suffered three consecutive league defeats at Kenilworth Road since April 2016 as a League Two side.

Bailey and  Watkins have combined for seven Premier League goals this season, more than any other duo. Meanwhile, it's the second most for a Villa duo in a single Premier League campaign, after Savo Milosevic and  Yorke in 1995/96, who combined for eight goals.

Villa have scored 59 goals in the Premier League this season, their outright second most in a single campaign in the competition after only 2007/08, where they scored 71.

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