Debutant Traore shows his class in Villa cruise
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