Conor Hourihane helps Aston Villa to Premier League survival as Watford and Bournemouth are relegated

Sun, Jul 26 2020

Hourihane in action for his country earlier this year. Credit: Brian F Smyth (ETPhotos)

Conor Hourihane played 76 minutes as Aston Villa secured their Premier League survival with a  1-1 draw away to West Ham United.

Former Republic of Ireland under-21 international Jack Grealish looked to have guaranteed safety for the Villains when he struck with six minutes remaining.

Less than two minutes later, however, Grealish was unfortunate to deflect an Andrey Yarmolenko shot over Pepe Reina and ensured a nervy finish for the Birmingham club.

They held on for the point they needed to stay ahead of Bournemouth, who won 3-1 away to Everton, while Watford were beaten 3-2 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Hourihane had already been withdrawn for the more defensive-minded Marvelous Nakamba when Grealish made the 84th-minute breakthrough.

The playmaker smashed a shot past Lukas Fabianski from inside the box but the goalkeeper should really have done more to get a hand to Grealish’s effort.

The lead lasted just over a minute, however, as Ukraine international Yarmolenko shot speculatively under pressure from Nakamba.

His shot hit the foot of Grealish and the ball looped unluckily over the retreating Reina, who very neatly managed to keep the ball out.

Knowing a point would most likely keep them up, Villa manager Dean Smith saw his team close out the game and Watford’s defeat in London ensured Premier League survival.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Aaron Connolly notched his third goal of the season for Brighton & Hove Albion as they overcame Kevin Long’s Burnley at Turf Moor.

Ireland defender Shane Duffy was not involved for the Seagulls as he looks set to move to pastures new after three years on the south coast.

And substitute Will Smallbone set up an equaliser for Southampton’s Che Adams as they finished off with a 3-1 win over Sheffield United, as Shane Long and Michael Obafemi also featured.

John Egan and Enda Stevens started in defence for the Blades, who dropped to ninth following Arsenal’s win over Watford.