Villa on Targett in last minute to see off 10-man Brighton
Aston Villa secured a last-gasp victory over Brighton as Matt Targett’s first goal for the club ended the resilience of 10-man Brighton.
Both sides came into the game on the back of fine wins ahead of the international break, Villa thrashing Norwich and Brighton heaping more misery on Tottenham.
But it would be Villa celebrating another three points as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Villa Park courtesy of a rare strike for Targett with almost the last kick of an entertaining contest which had also seen the hosts have a goal ruled out by VAR.
It looked to be a frustrating afternoon for Villa after captain Jack Grealish had equalised in first-half stoppage time, Aaron Mooy having already been sent off for the Seagulls following Adam Webster’s maiden goal for Graham Potter’s side.
There was a euphoric welcome for Villa defender Tyrone Mings, playing for the first time since being racially abused on his England debut in Bulgaria less than a week ago.
Soon after kick-off, a poor clearance from the Three Lions defender fell to the feet of Aaron Connolly but the new Republic of Ireland international could only scoop his effort over the crossbar.
But the visitors would take the lead with 21 minutes on the clock – although it would come in slightly controversial style.
Brighton were awarded a contentious free-kick as referee David Coote booked Conor Hourihane despite the Villa man seemingly winning the ball from Martin Montoya.
Pascal Gross sent the resulting set-piece over to the back-post where summer signing Webster rose to head back across Tom Heaton and open the scoring.
Hourihane almost made amends moments later but his low free-kick was shovelled away by Ryan before Webster made a vital block to keep out Anwar El Ghazi’s effort from a Villa counter-attack.
Brighton’s afternoon was made more difficult when Mooy was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards in five minutes, his first for kicking the ball away after conceding a free-kick before he went through the back of Grealish.
The hosts pushed on to make their one-man advantage pay before the half-time whistle, John McGinn unfortunate to see a goalbound effort accidentally blocked by team-mate Wesley.
They thought they had levelled when Hourihane smashed in three minutes before the break but the VAR ruled out his strike as Wesley was adjudged to have fouled Ryan in the build-up.
Despite being given a reprieve, Brighton could not reach half-time with their clean-sheet intact as Grealish bundled home El Ghazi’s cross from point-blank range.
Potter introduced Solly March at half-time and he sent a low effort inches wide of the post before Ryan was at his best to keep Hourihane out at the other end as he connected with Targett’s cross.
Brighton continued to play out from the back and crafted another chance, this time Maupay firing wide when well placed.
Both sides then passed up further decent chances, McGinn blazing over when picked out by Grealish before Montoya shot straight at Heaton when he should have scored.
Villa substitute Douglas Luiz arrowed a long-range shot just wide in the closing stages, Brighton’s defence standing firm as Ryan produced a fine late save to keep out Keinan Davis.
But Villa would not be denied and Grealish, in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate, rode two challenges before slipping in Targett, who made no mistake with the finish.