Story so far:
- Vieira makes two changes, with Eze and Zaha returning to the XI.
- Zaha rounds Martinez to score after five minutes, but VAR intervenes for a marginal offside.
- Andersen deflects into his own goal to give Villa the lead.
- Watkins misses the target when one on one with Guaita.
- HT: Aston Villa 1-0 Palace
- Doucouré is shown a second yellow card and Palace are down to 10 men.
- Palace push for an equaliser but to no avail.
- FT: Aston Villa 1-0 Palace
In Zaha and Eze, Palace were boosted by the return of a dynamic attacking duo capable of opening up even the best sides – and this was on full display in the first five minutes.
It was a repeat of Anfield in August: Eze brought it down superbly and slipped in Zaha. This time, the Ivorian rounded the ‘keeper and left Martinez sprawling, slotting home and giving Palace the lead. However, the Video Assistant Referee intervened and Zaha was shown to be marginally offside, curbing the Palace celebrations.
The Eagles cannot buy a piece of good fortune, and soon Villa were ahead. It came via Joachim Andersen, who slid across to block a cross reaching the open Ollie Watkins, but inadvertently diverted it past Vicente Guaita and into the back of the net.
Villa could have doubled their lead just before half-time, with Watkins inexplicably firing wide when through one on one and with the goal at his mercy.
Palace came out for the second-half with real intent and began searching for the equaliser, but the game was transformed by Cheick Doucouré’s dismissal on the hour-mark, after two yellow cards in quick succession.
With the man advantage, the hosts dominated possession and pushed for a second goal, testing Guaita from close-range and forcing a fine save.
Palace had chances at the other end, and Zaha fired narrowly wide after shaking off two challenges on the edge of the area. There was also the positive sight of James McArthur making his long-awaited return to action, playing the final 10 minutes.
Palace pushed forwards admirably as the seconds ticked down but to no avail, and it was Aston Villa who took home all three points.
Aston Villa: Martinez (GK), Cash, Konsa, Mings, Luiz, McGinn, Buendia, Watkins (Durán, 85), Moreno (Digne, 70), Ramsey (Bailey, 70), Kamara (Chambers, 60).
Subs not used: Olsen (GK), Sinisalo (GK), Traoré, Young,.
Palace: Guaita (GK), Clyne, Guéhi, Andersen, Mitchell, Doucouré, Lokonga (McArthur, 81), Ayew (Ahamada, 75), Eze (Hughes, 75), Olise (Mateta, 68), Zaha.
Subs not used: Whitworth (GK), Ward, Milivojevic, Edouard, Richards.