Ollie Watkins stole the spotlight as Aston Villa ran out 6-1 winners over Brighton & Hove Albion in Saturday’s Premier League showdown at Villa Park.
The England international produced an exceptional performance in the lunchtime encounter, bagging a hat-trick and an assist as Villa put Roberto De Zerbi’s high-flying Brighton to the sword.
Brighton travelled to Birmingham boasting a perfect record on the road, but all hopes of extending that feat were eviscerated as Watkins netted a seven-minute brace with the game in its infancy.
The 27-year-old kick-started the onslaught when he tapped home from Matty Cash’s low cross to score in his fourth consecutive Premier League appearance against the Seagulls.
He wasted no time scoring his second after surging into the box with attacking intent before rifling past Jason Steele to pile more misery on the south coast club.
Watkins then rounded up his remarkable performance with a deflected left-foot strike that ensured the striker collected only the second Premier League hat-trick of his career.
The Englishman had endured a slow start to the campaign, failing to score in Villa’s opening five Premier League fixtures – although he bagged assists against Newcastle United and Burnley.
He opened his goalscoring account in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with manager Unai Emery commending the striker’s hard work despite not having the number to show for it.
Watkins, who is in talks to extend his contract at Villa, has repaid his manager’s faith with a Man of the Match performance that will undoubtedly send his confidence through the roof.
Viilla’s triumph over Brighton takes them to third on the Premier League rankings level on 15 points with their victims, although they could drop out of the top four if other results don’t go their way.
The Villans will now switch their attention to Thursday’s Europa Conference League meeting with Bosnia & Herzegovina club HSK Zrinjski Mostar.
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