Aston Villa 1 – 0 Sheffield Utd
Aston Villa opened their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 home victory over 10-man Sheffield United, with Ezri Konsa netting the winner after Emiliano Martinez denied the visitors with a first-half penalty save. Villa were playing with a man more than their opponents from the 12th minute when Blades captain John Egan was shown a straight red card having been deemed to have denied Ollie Watkins a goalscoring opportunity.
But it took a great stop from debutant Martinez to prevent them from falling behind in the 36th minute as the summer signing from Arsenal kept out John Lundstram’s spot-kick.
Konsa then headed home in the 63rd minute, having been teed up by fellow defender Tyrone Mings.
While Dean Smith’s Villa celebrate a winning start, the result leaves Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United pointless after two matches.
Martinez was one of two players in the Villa starting line-up making their debut for the club, along with full-back Matty Cash, while there was a league bow for record-signing striker Watkins.
Wilder made three changes from his team’s 2-0 loss to Wolves a week earlier, with forward Oliver Burke among those coming in, for his league debut. Cash was involved early on as he lofted a delivery to John McGinn, whose effort went off-target.
The visitors were then reduced to 10 men when Egan was red-carded by referee Graham Scott after tussling with Watkins as the striker attempted to latch on to a long ball forward from Mings, the decision standing after a VAR check.John Egan was dismissed by referee Graham Scott (Clive Rose/PA)
As Villa attempted to take advantage, United – who replaced David McGoldrick with Ethan Ampadu around the half-hour mark – dealt well with the pressure that was applied, with Aaron Ramsdale having little problem collecting a Douglas Luiz header.The visitors were then handed the a golden chance to take the lead after Chris Basham went down in the box following a tackle from Matt Targett and Scott pointed to the spot.
Once another VAR check had been completed, Lundstram stepped up to take the penalty – and saw his effort from 12 yards pushed away in fine style by Martinez.
Conor Hourihane subsequently sent a shot into the stand in the 41st minute, and Watkins headed too high 10 minutes into the second half.
Eight minutes later Villa made the decisive breakthrough as Targett’s corner was flicked on by Mings and Konsa headed past Ramsdale.
The hosts’ subsequent attempts to add a second saw Jack Grealish send a couple of efforts wide, with Trezeguet and McGinn doing likewise. But there was no further addition to the scoring and Smith’s team were up and running at the first time of asking.