Tyrone Mings and John McGinn starred for Aston Villa as Steven Gerrard’s side ended their five-game losing streak against Brighton at Villa Park.

The Steven Gerrard era got off to an excellent start at Villa Park as Aston Villa scored two late goals to down Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0.

The game appeared to be headed towards a scoreless draw but Ollie Watkins had other ideas. The striker broke the deadlock in the 84th minute with a neatly taken goal that sent Gerrard crazy on the sideline.

Villa skipper Tyrone Mings ensured his side got all three points with his first goal in over a year in stoppage time. The feeling of relief was clear at full-time as 41,000 fans celebrated with their new manager who has so far struck all the right chords.

Brighton, for their part, controlled possession and had several chances to score. Emiliano Martinez was alert in goal for Villa and kept his side in the game. Gerrard’s decision to swap Danny Ings for Leon Bailey and shift Watkins to a central role paid dividends. The Liverpool legend certainly isn’t afraid to mix things up when needed.

The win takes Villa four points above the relegation zone. While it is too soon to celebrate just yet, it would appear that the good vibes are returning to the Midlands side. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how the Villa players fared on the day.

Emiliano Martinez (7/10)

The Argentine international was a solid presence between the sticks on the day. He stopped Leandro Trossard in the first half before coming out trumps against Tariq Lamptey in stoppage time. His saves proved key over the course of the game, helping the Villans secure all three points.

Matty Cash (7/10)

The right-back was a constant menace for Brighton on the right and impressed at both ends of the pitch. Linked up well with John McGinn on the right flank and was not afraid to put in the hard work. He went close with an early header at the far post but could not find a way past Jason Steele.

Ezri Konsa (6/10) 

The Englishman returned to the lineup after being suspended for the clash against Southampton. He settled in well alongside Mings and dealt with Brighton with minimal fuss. The duo’s strong partnership will be a good building base for Gerrard.

Tyrone Mings (8/10)

A captain’s performance by the English international. Not only was he solid find defence but commanded his backline well and covered for his teammates when needed. He forced a save from Steele in the second half before settling the game in stoppage time with Villa’s second. A clean sheet and a goal at the other end, cannot get any better for the centre-back.

Matt Targett (5/10)

The least impressive of the Villa backline. Targett found Lamptey’s pace difficult to handle and struggled initially. To his credit, he improved as the game went on.

Marvelous Nakamba (5/10)

He initially struggled against the Brighton duo of Adam Lallana and Yves Bissouma. This saw the visitors enjoy more of the ball in the first half. While he did improve in the rest of the match, much more is needed from him for the remainder of the season.

John McGinn (8/10)

A sensational display by the Scottish international who continues to be a consistent performer for Villa. Showed excellent fight on the day and was always available for the pass when needed.

McGinn formed an excellent partnership with Cash on the right, causing Brighton plenty of problems. His passing was on point and the all-action midfielder’s performance will have pleased Gerrard. His only drawback was being unable to get on the scoresheet.

Jacob Ramsey (6/10)

Arguably the home side’s best player in the first half. Ramsey was excellent in attack but almost cost Villa by losing the ball to Trossard. Thankfully Martinez was alert to deny the Brighton star. He tired as the game went on and was taken off in the second half. The performance, however, left an impression on Gerrard who appeared appreciative of the player at full-time.

Emiliano Buendia (4/10)

The Argentine made an excellent pass to Ings in the first half but failed to create much otherwise. A skilled player, he appeared to be trying too hard on the afternoon. He tried to increase the tempo of the Villa attack without much success and was eventually taken off. His frustration was clear as he went on to punch the bench. One of Villa’s most exciting summer signings, he will need to get his act together soon.

Danny Ings (4/10)

The former Liverpool man was industrious as always but could not get the ball. He had an early chance in the first half but saw little of the ball otherwise. He touched the ball just 17 times and was unceremoniously pulled for Bailey after the hour mark. Did little of note all game.

Ollie Watkins (7/10)

A lively performance from the attacker who started on the left-wing. He caused Brighton plenty of problems with his movement on the flank. Gerrard moved him into a central role following Ings’ substitution and Watkins, if anything, looked more menacing. Scored Villa’s first on the game with a well-taken effort in the 84th minute. The home side’s best attacker on the afternoon.

Substitutes

Leon Bailey (5/10)

He replaced Ings after the hour mark and offered more than the Englishman going forward. Still looks rusty following his return from injury but the minutes on the field will have helped.

Ashley Young (7/10)

The difference-maker off the bench, the English veteran offered a better outlet to the attack in comparison to Buendia. It was his incisive pass that led to Watkins’ opener.

Anwar El Ghazi (5/10)

Came on just before Villa broke the deadlock as Gerrard gambled for the win. The Dutchman managed to neutralize two Brighton players in the leadup to Watkins’ opener. It is fair to say that he too played a role off the bench, albeit not directly.

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