Debu­tant Traore shows his class in Villa cruise

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan at Ash­ton Gate

El Ghazi 11 Traore 14, Watkins 73

what prom­ises to be the most re­lent­less sea­son in the his­tory of do­mes­tic foot­ball, As­ton Villa en­joyed a restora­tive walk in the park at Ash­ton Gate.

A sub­lime Ber­trand Traore vol­ley on his de­but was com­fort­ably the high­light of this crowd­less, one-way show against Cham­pi­onship Bris­tol

City. For once, City fans may be glad the on­go­ing crowd shutout at least saved them a trip to watch a bor­der­line friendly fix­ture be­tween fringe play­ers.

Both sides have been in im­pres­sive form since the de­layed sum­mer break and, with 19 on-field changes be­tween them for this fix­ture, it was clear pri­or­i­ties were away from this EFL Cup tie.

Dean Smith’s au­di­tion­ees ran the show im­me­di­ately in the first half to kill the game within 13 min­utes. Max O’Leary, one of eight changes from the City that swept aside Stoke at the week­end, had al­ready made a se­ries of smart saves in the open­ing min­utes be­fore a jink­ing run in from the right by the ex­cel­lent Keinan Davis cre­ated an open­ing for An­war El Ghazi, who side-footed home with ease af­ter 11 min­utes.

Most en­cour­ag­ing of all will be the con­fi­dent de­but of Traore, who scored the sec­ond five min­utes later. The £19mil­lion sign­ing from Lyon will seem a snip if he man­ages many more em­phatic ef­forts like the siz­zling vol­ley he ham­mered right- footed across a de­spair­ing O’Leary’s goal.

The 25-year-old winger was the club’s fourth sign­ing of the trans­fer win­dow, but a de­lay in re­ceiv­ing a work per­mit meant the Burk­ina Faso in­ter­na­tional was un­able to fea­ture in Mon­day’s 1-0 win.

The sec­ond half saw City im­prove mod­er­ately, with neat flicks be­tween Adam Nagy and Steven Sesseg­non to cre­ate open­ings on the right. Their main cre­ative hopes, Kasey Palmer and An­toine Se­menya – who blazed his only ef­fort wide – were largely anony­mous, how­ever.

O’Leary de­served credit for keep­ing the score­line re­spectable late on, but he could do lit­tle about Ol­lie Watkins’s close-range ef­fort just three min­utes af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced from the bench.

John Terry, the Villa as­sis­tant man­ager, said he was not sur­prised by Traore’s im­pres­sive de­but, hav­ing seen how “very hun­gry” he was as a young­ster at Chelsea. “He’s got that po­ten­tial to beat play­ers, score great goals and hope­fully we’ll see more of that,” said Terry.

“He’s put in a good per­for­mance for some­one who hasn’t played a lot – to come in and get the goal tops it off. He was ex­cel­lent. I wouldn’t say I pushed [for the trans­fer], I know my role at the foot­ball club, but I gave a good char­ac­ter ref­er­ence.

“He has that qual­ity, pace to run in be­hind. He can iso­late peo­ple in one-on-one sit­u­a­tions. We have that on the other side with Jack [Gre­al­ish]. He can pro­duce that to free Jack up as well.”

City man­ager Dean Holden added: “We went toe-to-toe with them. That’s left our­selves open at the end. But I’m not go­ing to get too down as Villa are tough op­po­nents.”

Sweet start: Ber­trand Traore marked his first start for the club with a siz­zling vol­ley to help Villa ease into the next round

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