Aston Villa put their Premier League struggles behind them to beat Brighton and Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday evening, with one of their star performers getting plenty of love on social media after the contest.
The Villans have found life a little tricky back in the top flight, but you would not have known it judging by the performance against a much changed side down in Sussex.
It remains to be seen just how high the Carabao Cup is on the agenda of Villa boss Dean Smith, and although he gave some of his regulars a rest at the Amex, the team he put out still had a strong enough look to it.
Against a youthful Seagulls side, the onus was on the Villans to take the game to their opponent, and that is exactly what they did, opening the scoring through Jota midway through the first-half, and then doubling their advantage when Conor Hourihane found the back of the net after 33 minutes.
Things got a little tense for Villa when Brighton pulled a goal back after the break. That was enough for Smith to throw Jack Grealish onto the pitch, and he was rewarded for that move when the classy midfielder put the game out of sight of the home side with a quarter of an hour to go.
It was a night where Villans players were given the opportunity to impress, and the man who did that the most was Hourihane, a player frozen out by the quality of John McGinn and the rest of the central options available to Smith, but who did his chances of a recall no harm here.
The Republic of Ireland international controlled the game for the most part, culminating in his fine goal and his performance certainly caught the eye of the Villa fans, plenty of whom took to social media to comment on his display.
Here are some of their posts:
— Joe Robinson (@Joey2Arms) September 25, 2019
Luiz & Hourihane in for Burnley, drop El Ghazi and stick Grealish wider #avfc
— RJK_Villan 🦁 (@VITA_IOS) September 25, 2019
Hourihane and Davis to start against Burnley anyone ? #AVFC
— Ben Kavanagh (@BenKavanagh_7) September 25, 2019
Fairplay to hourihane. Been dropped for little to no reason and when he’s got a chance he’s played well and gave everything. Worthy of a start this weekend #avfc
— Aston Villa (@Astonvilla475) September 25, 2019
Starting Hourihane vs Burnley seems like a good shout. We've missed his goal threat, and against a team where we should be putting on pressure I think he should start.
— Villa Culture (@VillaCulture) September 25, 2019
Hourihane venting his frustration in the best possible way with an assist & a goal. Whilst not enough to displace McGinn or Grealish, he’s worthy of coming off the bench to replace either should they tire late on in #avfc games. Tonight reinforces what a top professional he is.
— Lee Inman (@LeeInman4) September 25, 2019
— Dan Hayward (@TheDanHayward) September 25, 2019
Defensively looked calm, Targett gradually got into the game. Hourihane looked comfortable, McGinn his usual spotless self. Trezeguet starting to show his spark and Grealish put the game to bed and was just what we needed. Thought Smith got it spot on tonight #AVFC
— Reece (@Reece_AV) September 25, 2019
Hourihane MUST start! #avfc
— Brendan Bird (@BrendanBird77) September 25, 2019
Hourihane HAS TO START SATURDAY. Set pieces, that left foot, late runs into box, passing ability. The man can do no more to force a PL start. HAS TO BE on that teamsheet Saturday. #avfc #utv @AVFCOfficial
— John McGod7 (@JMcgod7) September 25, 2019