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Aston Villa held Brighton & Hove Albion to a goalless draw at Amex Stadium on Saturday night, with Emi Martinez stealing the show as the standout player on the field.
The first half was an irritable affair, as the Seagulls finally took control of the game. A string of late chances were forged as the half progressed, and Martinez had to be in his prime to produce a series of smart saves to keep the hosts at bay.
The Argentine proved to be the difference once again in the second half, making a spectacular dive to keep Joel Veltman’s shot away from a distance. Both Brighton and VIlla had a chance of winning the game, but neither could land the killing blow, meaning the loot was shared on the Amex.
Let’s take a look at the player ratings from a tense night of soccer on the South Coast.
Robert Sánchez (GK) – 6/10 – He had nothing to do in a quiet first half as Villa was unable to click gear. There’s 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. It grew throughout the game.
Lewis Dunk (CB) – 8/10 – Solid and combative in his handling of Watkins, whom he efficiently annulled. So strong in the air and on the ground.
Dan Burn (CB) – 7/10 – He almost got on the scoreboard with a well-directed header. He had another crack seconds later, but his shot was well blocked.
Joel Veltman (RWB) – 7/10 – He did an excellent job of keeping Grealish calm in the first half, forcing the winger to switch flanks to try and find joy. An equally successful night of work in second period as well.
Gross Pascal (CM) – 7/10 – An extremely neat player. Good with the ball and he never stopped running, so much energy. Villa’s midfield commanded.
Alexis Mac Allister (CM) – 6/10 – A threat in possession, and he lifted a free kick just over the crossbar from a dangerous position.
Yves Bissouma (CM) – 7/10 – Very good in that midfield. He carried the ball forward, played it between the lines, pinched possession for his teammates. Too good for this team.
Steven Alzate (LWB) – 6/10 – He dove to get Grealish out in the first half, putting himself under great pressure. He managed well for the rest of the match.
Leandro Trossard (ST) – 7/10 – He won a free kick on the edge of the area with a cheeky nutmeg on Luiz. He fired a poisonous blow toward the goal that Martinez had to tap behind.
Neal Maupay (ST) – 6/10 – He fought to bother Mings and Konsa’s nights. However, the great opportunity never fell in his way.
Adam Lallana (CM) – 6/10
Danny Welbeck (ST) – N / A
Emi Martínez (GK) – 9/10 – What a performance! Save after save after save. He did well to dump the ball over the bar from a Trossard drive, then pushed Burn’s header around the post from the resulting corner. A couple more stops in the second half as well. A saving of points.
Matty Cash (RB) – 7/10 – Determined on that right flank, but did not face too much danger in the form of Alzate. Sent off due to injury in the second half.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 6/10 – He associated well with Mings, keeping Maupay and Trossard in check, despite the initial dominance of the Seagulls.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 7/10 – He blocked Burn’s shot well from close range. He scored the Brighton forwards in a dominant fashion, but struggled slightly when midfield was overrun.
Matt Targett (LB) – 7/10 – He couldn’t get on the field to support Grealish as he would have expected, having a lot to worry about in his own third of the field.
John McGinn (CM) – July 10 – Driven to do more defense than he would have liked, and he couldn’t make an impact on half of Brighton. Put a big block in the box for the second half.
Douglas Luiz (CM) – 7/10 – He had a lot to protect, and the Brighton forwards forced him to take the odd free kick.
Ross Barkley (CM) – 6/10 – Often the tallest player on the field, playing off Watkins takedowns and linking. Always available to give Grealish a body to bounce the ball.
Bertrand Traore (RW) – 6/10 – He couldn’t get into the game, but he did a good job defending and maintaining team form from the right side. Subbed in the second half.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – 6/10 – Little service to work on in the first half, and he clipped an unusually isolated figure at the top end of the field. He fought against the land of the defending giants that surrounded him.
Jack Grealish (LW) – 6/10 – On the receiving end of a pair of rough tackles in the first half hour, as Brighton tried to ring the talisman. He never looked at his silky best.
Ahmed El Mohamady (RB) – 6/10
Trezeguet (RW) – 6/10
Morgan Sanson (CM) – 6/10