Cham­pi­ons League win­ning bosses

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

How the de­fender wanted his evening to end. Dither­ing af­ter 35 min­utes, Gayle smelt blood. The striker let El­ph­ick off the hook, his goal­keeper Pier­luigi Gollini needs credit, a strong leg pre­vent­ing the £10m for­ward reg­is­ter­ing.

Re­mark­able as the over­all cost of both teams were, Villa were miss­ing their big-money sign­ing. Lack­ing the cre­ativ­ity and goalscor­ing in­stinct of Ross McCor­mack

As much as they weren’t be­ing over-run, Villa weren’t tak­ing con­trol ei­ther. When Di­ame did man­age to keep his shot down when un­marked, it went wide. Jonjo Shelvey’s cut­ting pass across the box de­served a bet­ter fin­ish. When the hosts did have their mo­ment, the as­sis­tant wanted his. A con­tro­ver­sial call came to rule out Mile Je­d­i­nak’s fine header af­ter a deep free-kick. Was it the Aus­tralian or sub­sti­tute Rudy Gest­ede? Ei­ther way, there was inches in it, a big 68th minute call.

Jor­dan Ayew, much like Villa, hasn’t hit the heights so far. He al­most made up for that, rac­ing in from the by­line with his threat­en­ing right foot be­fore un­leash­ing a vi­cious drive which smashed Matz Sels’ post.

The of­fi­cials were at the cen­tre of a storm. All in­side Villa Park thought Che­ick Tiote had up­ended Tshi­bola but ref­eree Chris Ka­vanagh said dive. The mid­fielder would have his mo­ment.

From Ayew’s deep cor­ner, Gouf­fran wilted. Tshi­bola got a run on him, Sels didn’t cover him­self in glory and some­how be­tween them the Toon pair con­trived to gift Di Mat­teo the lift he craved. The 21-year-old turned the game, his near post header se­cur­ing a point.

POINTER: Aaron Tshi­bola cel­e­brates scor­ing Villa’s equaliser

ON THE RUN: Dwight Gayle gets away from Ash­ley West­wood

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