Ollie Watkins has ended his goal drought as Aston Villa returned to winning ways and climbed into the top 10 of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory against lacklustre Newcastle.
The club-record signing scored for the first time in 10 matches to set Villa on their way to all three points with an early strike, before Bertrand Traore doubled the lead before halftime.
Villa boss Dean Smith watched from the stands as he served a one-match touchline ban after he was charged by the FA for using abusive and/or insulting language towards referee Jon Moss during the controversial defeat at Manchester City.
He will have been pleased with what he saw, after picking up only one point from games against Chelsea, Manchester United and City in the Premier League, as Villa moved up to eighth in the table.
For Newcastle, the downward spiral continued and Steve Bruce’s team dropped to 16th spot after a sixth defeat in a eight-match winless run in the Premier League.
There were a couple of warning signs for Newcastle, before Villa scored after 13 minutes.
Karl Darlow had to smother Matt Targett’s effort from the edge of the box before a dangerous cross by the left-back just eluded Watkins as he tried to get a touch at the near post.
It was another Targett cross that brought the opening goal shortly afterwards.
Fabian Schar could only slice the ball into the air inside his own penalty area. The ball looped goalwards and Watkins reacted quickest ahead of Darlow to bravely nod the ball home.
Villa deservedly doubled their lead just before halftime as Traore showed good control and quick feet to find Jack Grealish down the left side of the penalty area before continuing his run into the box, where he was picked out by a brilliant cutback.
Traore used the pace on Grealish’s pass to guide his shot into the top corner.
Villa comfortably saw out the match, keeping three consecutive home clean sheets in the same Premier League season for the first time since December 2012.