Aston Villa held Brighton & Hove Albion to a goalless draw at the Amex stadium on Saturday evening, with Emi Martinez stealing the show as the standout player on the pitch.
The first half was a tetchy affair, as the Seagulls eventually took control of the game. They carved out a flurry of late chances as the half progressed, and Martinez had to be at his best to produce a string of smart saves to keep the hosts at bay.
The Argentine proved to be the difference once again in the second half, delivering a spectacular diving stop to keep out Joel Veltman’s drive from distance. Both Brighton and VIlla had chances to win the game, but neither could land the killer blow, meaning the spoils were shared at the Amex.
Let’s take a look at the player ratings from a tense evening of football on the south coast.
Robert Sanchez (GK) – 6/10 – Had nothing to do in a quiet first half, as Villa failed to click into gear. Not much else to worry about in the second, either.
Ben White (CB) – 7/10 – Confident in his defensive work, and played the ball well to get Brighton moving. Grew throughout the game.
Lewis Dunk (CB) – 8/10 – Solid and combative in his handling of Watkins, whom he nullified efficiently. So strong in the air and across the ground.
Dan Burn (CB) – 7/10 – Almost got on the scoresheet with a well-directed header. Had another crack seconds later, but his shot was blocked well.
Joel Veltman (RWB) – 7/10 – Did an excellent job of keeping Grealish quiet in the first half, forcing the winger to swap flanks to try and find joy. A similarly successful night’s work in the second period, too.
Pascal Gross (CM) – 7/10 – An extremely tidy player. Good on the ball and never stopped running – so much energy. Bossed the Villa midfield.
Alexis Mac Allister (CM) – 6/10 – A threat in possession, and lifted a free-kick just over the crossbar from a dangerous position.
Yves Bissouma (CM) – 7/10 – So, so good in that midfield. Carried the ball forward, played it between the lines, pinched possession back for his teammates. Far too good for this team.
Steven Alzate (LWB) – 6/10 – Dived in to take out Grealish in the first half, putting himself under serious pressure. Coped well for the rest of the match.
Leandro Trossard (ST) – 7/10 – Won a free-kick on the edge of the box with a cheeky nutmeg on Luiz. Fired a venomous strike towards goal which Martinez had to palm behind.
Neal Maupay (ST) – 6/10 – Battled to make Mings and Konsa’s evenings uneasy. The big chance never quite fell his way, though.
Adam Lallana (CM) – 6/10
Danny Welbeck (ST) – N/A
Emi Martinez (GK) – 9/10 – What a performance! Save after save after save. Did well to tip the ball over the bar from a Trossard drive, then poked Burn’s header around the post from the resulting corner. A couple more stops in the second half, too. A point-saver.
Matty Cash (RB) – 7/10 – Resolute on that right flank, but didn’t face too much danger in the shape of Alzate. Forced off through injury in the second half.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 6/10 – Partnered well alongside Mings, keeping Maupay and Trossard in check, despite the Seagulls’ early dominance.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 7/10 – Blocked Burn’s shot well from close range. Marshalled the Brighton forwards commandingly but struggled slightly as the midfield became overrun.
Matt Targett (LB) – 7/10 – Couldn’t get up the pitch to support Grealish as he would have hoped, having plenty to worry about in his own third of the field.
John McGinn (CM) – 7/10 – Pushed into doing more defending than he may have wanted, and couldn’t make an impact in Brighton’s half. Put in a great block in the box during the second half.
Douglas Luiz (CM) – 7/10 – Had a lot of shielding to do, and was forced into giving away the odd free-kick by Brighton’s swarming forwards.
Ross Barkley (CM) – 6/10 – Often the highest player up the pitch, playing off Watkins’ knock-downs and link up. Always on hand to give Grealish a body to bounce the ball off.
Bertrand Traore (RW) – 6/10 – Couldn’t get into the game, but did a good job of defending and keeping the team’s shape from the right-hand side. Subbed in the second half.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – 6/10 – Little service to work with in the first half, and cut an unusually isolated figure at the top end of the pitch. Struggled against the land of the giants defenders surrounding him.
Jack Grealish (LW) – 6/10 – On the receiving end of a couple of rough tackles in the opening half hour, as Brighton tried to rattle the talisman. Never looked at his silky best.
Ahmed El Mohamady (RB) – 6/10
Trezeguet (RW) – 6/10
Morgan Sanson (CM) – 6/10