Aston Villa’s fine form in front of goal continued as they stormed to a stunning 4-1 win away at AZ Alkmaar to move top of their Europa Conference League group.
AZ were semi-finalists in this competition last season but were blown away by Unai Emery’s clinical side, who took a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans.
Ollie Watkins’ ninth goal of the season and John McGinn’s close-range strike added gloss to the scoreline after half-time, though AZ pulled one back through Ibrahim Sadiq’s stunning effort from range.
Overall, Villa scored four goals from five shots to make it 16 goals in their last five matches, all of which have seen Emery’s side go unbeaten.
How Villa stormed to win at Alkmaar
Aston Villa team news
- Aston Villa made four changes from the side who beat West Ham on Sunday, with Diego Carlos and Clement Lenglet replacing Ezri Konsa and Pau Torres at centre-half.
- Moussa Diaby was rested with Leon Bailey starting instead, while Nicolo Zaniolo made way for Youri Tielemans.
AZ had the first chance of the game as Evangelos Pavlidis crossed from the left for Dani de Wit, whose header inside the area fell just wide after a heavy deflection off Clement Lenglet.
But Villa soon had the advantage as Bailey swivelled and shot on the edge of the box past Mat Ryan in the AZ goal, just seconds after the Villa winger messed up a one-on-one by failing to get a shot away.
AZ tried to respond with Pavlidis firing straight at Emiliano Martinez but it was not long until the visitors had a second.
John McGinn intercepted Sven Mijnans’ slack square pass in the AZ half and drove at goal, before squaring for the unmarked Tielemans in the box. The Belgiun midfielder took a touch before slotting underneath Ryan’s legs.
Aston Villa: Martinez (6); Cash (7), Carlos (7), Lenglet (8), Digne (7); Kamara (8), Luiz (7); McGinn (8), Tielemans (8); Bailey (9), Watkins (8)
Subs: Zaniolo (6), Diaby (n/a), Duran (n/a), Dendoncker (n/a)
Player of the match: Leon Bailey
AZ then had a glorious chance to equalise when Villa almost gifted them a goal while playing out the back. Boubacar Kamara lost the ball to Mijnans on the edge of his box, leaving Pavlidis with lots of time to fire past Martinez.
The AZ striker’s effort was too high, however, as the most clear-cut chance of the first half went begging.
That goal proved crucial as Villa grabbed a third shortly after half-time. Bailey was released by Tielemans after good link up play by Watkins. Bailey’s shot was parried but Watkins had circled round to tap in the third.
Five minutes later, it was four as Kamara released Bailey down the right flank and he crossed for McGinn, who tapped in at the near post after a clever run.
Villa felt the game was done at that point and they were caught out on the break as substitute Bruno Martins Indi played a stunning long ball across the pitch for Sadiq, who chested down the pass before finding Martinez’s bottom corner from distance.
Despite the hosts gaining confidence from that consolation goal – with Tiago Dantas going close soon after Sadiq’s strike – Villa saw out the victory with ease and without urgency.
Analysis: Villa just cannot stop scoring
Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz:
Aston Villa were truly clinical in their 4-1 win over AZ Alkmaar. Five shots, four goals. The only shot they did not score from? It was rebounded in the net seconds later.
What was also impressive is the type of goals Villa scored on Thursday night. They took a 2-0 lead from just 0.15 xG from the two shots, showing the clinical mood they are in right now.
Then there’s the personnel that are scoring for Villa. Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans were the two players rotated into this Villa attack for the trip to AZ and took their chances, showing the depth Villa have. Ollie Watkins and John McGinn scoring once again in the form of their lives just adds to the excitement.
Next up for Unai Emery’s side is Luton Town at Villa Park. The Hatters have highest Expected Goals Against tally away from home in the Premier League this season. They cannot afford to give Villa the chances they have been giving other teams. Or they will be comfortably dispatched as well.
Aston Villa return to Premier League action on Sunday when they host Luton – kick-off 2pm.
Unai Emery’s side then travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday November 5, live on Sky Sports – kick-off 2pm.
AZ’s next game is at home to NEC in the Eredivisie on Sunday – kick-off 3.45pm.