Ramsey strike gives Villa scrappy win over Southampton
BIRMINGHAM, England - Jacob Ramsey netted his first goal of the season to give Aston Villa a scrappy 1-0 home victory over Southampton in the Premier League on Friday and snap a run of four games without a win.
With the cancellation of last week's fixtures due to the death of Queen Elizabeth, the game was preceded by a minute's silence, and fans applauded in the 70th minute and sang "God Save The Queen" in recognition of her 70-year reign.
Desperate for a win after collecting four points from their first six games, Villa began to dominate possession as the first half progressed, with Philippe Coutinho wasting two good chances before Ramsey broke the deadlock.
The 21-year-old midfielder struck in the 41st minute, pouncing on the rebound and firing the ball off the underside of the crossbar after Ollie Watkins' header from a corner was acrobatically kept out by Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu.
Douglas Luiz almost grabbed a cheeky second for Villa in first-half stoppage time as he swung in a corner that looked like it was going to dip under the crossbar, but Bazunu tipped the ball over.
Southampton came out with a lot more urgency in the second half, but both sides struggled to get any decent shots on target as Villa defended their lead doggedly.
Substitute Danny Ings had a great chance to double the lead in second-half stoppage time as Bazunu came up for a corner, but the striker pulled his shot from the halfway line wide of the open goal.
Villa's second win of the season lifted them to 13th in the table with seven points from seven games. Southampton also have seven points and the same goal difference, but remained a place above Villa on goals scored.
"We've been criticised all season for not grafting, not fighting and giving away cheap points but tonight we fought for every ball - it wasn't pretty and we know we can play better, but it's a huge three points," Villa captain John McGinn said.
Southampton managed a single shot on target over the 90 minutes in a lacklustre performance that left them plenty to work on during the international break.
"I thought we got a bit better in the second half but not enough to get anything from the game. None of us were good enough today. We have to review the game and work on the training pitch to better it for the next game," midfielder James Ward-Prowse said.
Also on Friday, Nottingham Forest squandered a lead for the second successive Premier League game as they slipped to a 3-2 home defeat by Fulham.
Taiwo Awoniyi gave Forest the perfect start but Fulham struck three times in six minutes early in the second half to turn the match on its head.
Forest, who lost to Bournemouth in their previous game from 2-0 up, are second-bottom of the table with four points. Fulham moved up to sixth with 11 points. - REUTERS