Villa's push for Europe still alive with Mings' winner over harmful Fulham
Aston Villa defeated Fulham 1-0 to keep up their bid for European football. It was their fifth straight victory at Villa Park in the top flight without giving up a goal since 1983.
Andreas Pereira's acrobatic effort from inside the box with just one minute left on the clock gave Fulham an excellent opportunity to open the score. Fulham was one of only two teams with a 100% winning record in midweek Premier League (PL) games this season. Villa understood that the effective Ollie Watkins would be essential to their ambitions if they were to ensure that the Cottagers' record was broken. The hosts argued that their star striker had been fouled inside the penalty area on the 15-minute mark, but the VAR said otherwise. With 14 goals already to his name in the league this season, he needed only one more to record a personal best PL scoring season.
Prior to this game, Villa had scored in all 19 Premier League fixtures under Unai Emery - the longest streak from the start of a manager's tenure in the competition's history. And so it came as no surprise when captain Tyrone Mings gave the red-hot Villans the lead after 21 minutes, glancing John’s McGinn’s corner into the far side of the goal, much to the delight of the home fans, who continued to dream of European football next season.
While Emery's team appeared content with their one-goal lead, Fulham was looking for an outright club record eighth away top-flight victory in a season. However, they were well behind Emery's team in terms of attacking efficiency. Watkins wanted to break his record as soon as possible, and in the final 20 minutes, he had a good opportunity to do so when he created a shooting angle but the pressure was too much for him, and his attempt missed the mark.
The Cottagers never appeared to have a chance to get back into the game and didn't even manage to get a single shot on goal the entire time. The hosts held on to win a well-deserved victory, extending their unbeaten streak to 10 games and keeping them in the hunt for continental qualification. However, the away supporters thought they had equalized late on when Mings turned Harrison Reed's cross into his own net, but the flag went up for offside. While Fulham will now likely finish comfortably in the middle of the table.