Kortney Hause is now undroppable from the Aston Villa line-up after playing a central role in the side’s famous victory over Manchester United on Saturday.
The centre-half stepped into the starting XI in place of the match-tied Axel Tuanzebe, but hardly resembled a back-up defender as he kept Cristiano Ronaldo and company quiet all afternoon.
To top it all off, the Londoner headed home in the 88th minute of the game to give Villa a deserved lead, a sensational way to make his first start and just second appearance in the Premier League this season.
It almost ended in disaster, however, as Hause handled the ball in his own box moments later, gifting the hosts a penalty in injury time.
With Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo, who have penalty conversion rates of 93 and 83 percent respectively, ready to step for the spot kick, the script appeared to be already written.
But when Fernandes took on the responsibility, he was seemingly put off by Emi Martinez’ mind games and ballooned his effort a mile over the bar.
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A reprieve for Hause and the team as a whole, for whom an equaliser would’ve been criminal given how heroically they defended in the face of a relentless onslaught which saw United make 28 attempts on goal, but to no avail.
Dean Smith simply cannot drop Hause now, according to our Villa correspondent Ashley Preece, who spoke to Dan Rolinson live from Old Trafford to give his instant reaction to the result on Facebook Live.
“No, there’s way (Hause can be dropped), he was incredible today,” a giddy Preece told viewers.
“He pocketed Ronaldo. He really did! Ronaldo was very quiet today, very quiet. He tried to play off Hause, but Hause was winning all of the aerial duels.
“That back three, there are not too many better. Athletic, good in the air, strong, bodies on the line. That defence today, I think Man United could still be playing now and they wouldn’t score. Incredible effort at the back, what a defence, they were unreal today. They had to be alert.
“It’s a front four of Pogba, Ronaldo, Fernandes, Greenwood, (but) Martinez was untroubled at times. It was a comfortable display from him.
“The defence was excellent, you can’t ask for much more. Kortney Hause, ultimate squad player, comes in; he could’ve been down beaten and disheartened, but he keeps at it, always ready and willing when he’s called upon.
“I’m pleased for him, scoring as well today, a great header. Great celebration, chuffed for him. Only cost three million quid, what a snip. There’s a lot to like about this group, all of them.”
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Although it was a narrow victory in the end, Villa were “great value” for the win and could have won by an even bigger margin.
“Three good chances in that first-half that could have put United out of sight,” Preece added.
“Villa were brave at the back, the game plan was nailed. Outstanding win, a real team shift, a lot to like about this team now.
“They’re coming on strong. They’ve performed well for the last few weeks without getting the results and they got a sweet one today. The only way is up now with what they’ve shown today.”