Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa: Steven Gerrard continues his perfect start to life as a Premier League manager as Matt Targett and John McGinn hand Patrick Vieira's men their first league defeat in seven games
Steven Gerrard had the edge over Patrick Vieira as a player. It has continued in Premier League management.
In this first touchline tussle of these two top-flight greats, Gerrard came out on top to continue his winning start in charge of Villa.
Seven times he got the better of Vieira when they met as player, the Frenchman victorious in only three of their 13 meetings.
A rare goal from Matt Targett and sumptuous second from John McGinn made it 1-0 to Gerrard against Vieira in what could go on to be a long-running battle.
Until McGinn sealed the three points in the 86th minute with a winning goal from a midfielder that either manager would have been proud of, this game had nothing like the quality Gerrard and Vieira possessed in their playing pomp. The former, though, would not have worried about that.
After inheriting a side who had lost five successive games, a second three points to go with his debut win against Brighton would have been his sole priority. McGinn’s goal capped a frustrating afternoon for Palace when little went right.
They shipped from a set piece again, suffered a first home defeat this season and saw their seven-game unbeaten run ended.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYERS RATINGS
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Guaita 6; Ward 6, Tomkins 6, Guehi 6.5, Mitchell 7; Kouyate 6.5, Milivojevic 4 (Eze 60, 6.5) Gallagher 6; Olise 6.5 (Ayew 87), Zaha 6 (Edouard 72, 6), Benteke 6.
Subs not used: Butland, Ayew, Hughes, Schlupp, Clyne, Edouard, Kelly, Riedewald.
Scorer: Guehi (90+5)
Booked: Zaha, Ward
Manager: Patrick Vieira 6
ASTON VILLA (4-2-3-1): Martinez 6; Cash 6.5, Konsa 6.5, Mings 7, Targett 7; Nakamba 7, McGinn 7.5; Bailey 7.5 (El Ghazi 77), Ramsey 7 (Luiz 67, 6), Young 7.5 (Buendia 85); Watkins 6.5.
Subs not used: Steer, Sanson, Tuanzebe, Ings, Hause, Chukwuemeka.
Scorer: Targett 15, McGinn 86
Booked: Cash, Nakamba, Luiz
Manager: Steven Gerrard 7.5
Referee: Michael Salisbury 4
Attendance: 25, 203
Gerrard, who never won at Selhurst Park during his playing days, said: ‘I’m really pleased with the start we’ve made but there is still a lot of work for us to do to evolve.
‘I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to play at a high level. I’ve wanted to grow and take information with me, in terms of shape and how you look out of possession. Hopefully in time people will see that identity and philosophy come across. It is a real big step to take six points from six.’
After Leon Bailey scuffed a free-kick into the wall, Villa made up for it from their next set piece, exploiting a repeated failing for Vieira.
Ashley Young swung in a corner which fell to Matt Targett, who took a touch before firing into the far corner. He took the chance confidently for someone whose last Premier League goal was way back in October 2019.
But it was a league-high 10th goal Palace had conceded from a set-piece and eighth from a corner. No wonder their fans sarcastically cheered when they dealt with corners thereafter.
Targett revealed: ‘Our analysts spoke about set pieces in the build-up to the game. We know they’re not great at defending them.’
Villa should have extended their lead as McGinn curled a shot just wide and Tyrone Mings somehow managed to divert a free-kick from the Scot away from goal as he slid in.
This Palace side have looked composed under Vieira but that quality was sorely lacking in the first half.
When ball-playing defender Joachim Andersen joined James McArthur on Palace’s injury list with a hamstring problem it would not have helped the home team’s cause.
They had only one effort on goal of note in the first period when Wilfried Zaha controlled Michael Olise’s pass, tricked his way past Matty Cash and Ezri Konsa but dragged his effort wide.
Palace came out with increased urgency and intent after the break — not that such an improvement was particularly difficult thanks to their below-par showing.
But for all that, they still failed to trouble Emi Martinez in the Villa goal. An extra injection of quality and spark was required and Vieira turned to his bench, bringing on Ebere Eze for his first appearance since rupturing his Achilles tendon in May.
Still there was no sign of a Palace breakthrough, although brief hope appeared when Villa substitute Douglas Luiz was shown a red card by Michael Salisbury for a studs- first challenge on Cheikhou Kouyate only for the referee to downgrade the Brazilian’s punishment to a yellow after reviewing the incident.
With 11 minutes left, Martinez was finally called on to save former Villa striker Christian Benteke’s overhead kick — Palace’s first effort on target — and a second from substitute Odsonne Edouard quickly followed.
But McGinn’s curling, first-time finish into the top corner from outside the box confirmed Villa’s victory. Marc Guehi’s close-range consolation was too little, too late.
Vieira said: ‘I’m disappointed by the performance. We didn’t play well enough, didn’t move the ball quickly enough, defend well enough as a team and the consequence is not getting anything from the game. We made it comfortable for them, especially in the first half.’