Aston Villa’s faithful were treated to a rollercoaster of emotions on Saturday as Douglas Luiz and Reggae Boy Leon Bailey scored during more than a quarter of an hour of stoppage time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Substitute Jhon Duran had earlier ignited Villa’s hopes with a stunning equaliser in the 87th minute.
Palace had initially taken the lead two minutes into the second half when Odsonne Edouard capitalised on a slip from Villa’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Villa’s Ollie Watkins had missed crucial opportunities either side of halftime, but the visitors seemed destined for victory.
However, Villa’s persistence paid off when substitute Jhon Duran unleashed a spectacular strike in the 87th minute to level the score. The game’s turning point came after a contentious VAR review when Chris Richards fouled Watkins in the area. Douglas Luiz stepped up and calmly converted from the penalty spot to put Villa ahead.
The icing on the cake came deep into stoppage time when Leon Bailey, another substitute, found himself in the right place at the right time, turning in a crucial goal from close range in the 101st minute.
Villa’s comeback win propelled them to seventh place in the Premier League, positioning them two points ahead of eighth-placed Crystal Palace.
The game was played with an extra layer of intrigue due to Palace’s absence of manager Roy Hodgson in the dugout, who was sidelined due to illness. Assistant manager Paddy McCarthy admirably took charge of the team in his absence.
Throughout the match, Villa dominated possession but struggled to breach Palace’s well-organized defense. Palace, despite missing key players such as Marc Guehi and Jefferson Lerma due to injury, held firm under relentless pressure until Duran’s thunderous strike tilted the scales in Villa’s favor.
Speaking after the match, Villa manager Unai Emery acknowledged the team’s resilience, stating, “We were playing more with our hearts than with our minds in the last 20 minutes, and sometimes you need that. At the end, we deserved to win.”
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