The Sunday Mail
MARVELOUS NAKAMBA finally made it back to the Aston Villa match-day squad but the Zimbabwean international was an unused substitute as his side overcame Southampton 1-0 in an English Premiership match on Friday night.
However, his fellow countryman Jordan Zemura had a fine game and lasted 90 minutes as Bournemouth drew 1-1 with Newcastle at St James’ Park yesterday.
Zemura has been having a fine debut in the Premiership.
Conversely, Nakamba is yet to play a part in Villa’s 2022/2023 campaign, and just managed to survive being shipped out of the club during the just-ended transfer window.
He was one of the survivors when the club offloaded Anwar El Ghazi, who moved to PSV for £2,25 million; Trezeguet (Trabzonspor, £3,6m), Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea, £20m); and Matt Targett (Newcastle United, £15m).
Lovre Kalinic (Hadjuk Split) and Conor Hourihane (Derby County) also moved on free transfers.
But, on Friday night, he finally found a way back into the match-day squad amid revelations Boubacar Kamara had been sidelined by injury.
Villa’s draw with Manchester City was a huge result for Steven Gerrard given the pressure he has been facing going into the game. The match against Southampton was not a flowing performance but a fine result.
Villa did not look fantastic but they helped to make Southampton look awful, and that was more than enough to win it.
The sight of Emiliano Martinez on his knees at full-time showed how much it meant.
The Villa goalkeeper has had to wait almost five months for the clean sheet.
He had Tyrone Mings to thank.
What little momentum that Saints could build up around the Villa box was repelled by his head, towering above everyone else inside the penalty box as he won all his four aerial battles.
Gerrard has bemoaned individual errors throughout his time at Villa Park but there were none of note, only players fighting for the fans and each other.
If this group can do that, then there remains a belief that they have the quality to come up with something.
Gerrard’s opposite Ralph Hasenhuttl described the game between Southampton and Aston Villa as “horrible to watch” and feels his players were not physically good enough.
Separately, in yesterday’s game at St Jame’s Park, striker Alexander Isak equalised from the penalty spot to earn Newcastle United the draw.
Newcastle dominated the first half, hitting the woodwork twice and seeing Neto pull off a string of fine saves for the visitors as Bournemouth deployed a tight five-man line across the back.
But things went from bad to worse for the hosts as Philip Billing then scored for Bournemouth, guiding home a deft volley with his left foot to briefly silence the local crowd.
However, that lead did not last long as Jefferson Lerma was penalised following a VAR review for handling Kieran Trippier’s cross in the box, and Isak stepped up to slam the spot-kick past Neto.
It was Isak’s first goal at home for Newcastle since joining from Real Sociedad in August for a reported club record fee of £59 million (US$67 million), but neither he nor his teammates came close to fashioning a winner.
The draw, Newcastle’s fifth stalemate in eight league games, moves the Magpies up to 10th in the table on eight points, while Bournemouth rose two places from 14th to 12th.
Earlier on yesterday, Jack Grealish scored inside the first minute and Erling Haaland netted his 11th Premier League goal of the season as Manchester City eased to a 3-0 victory over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Phil Foden added a third in the second half as City moved to the top of the table with 17 points from seven games, while Wolves are in 16th place, having won only once this season.
The home side were reduced to 10 men on 33 minutes after a horrendous challenge from defender Nathan Collins, who launched himself studs-first into the midriff of Grealish and could have no complaints about the straight red card.
There was a minute’s silence ahead of kick-off following the death of Queen Elizabeth and the majority of fans kept a respectful silence, while there was warm applause on 70 minutes from all around the ground to mark the number of years the monarch was on the throne.
The champions took the lead after 55 seconds, when Kevin De Bruyne’s inviting cross into the six-yard box was turned home by Grealish, before Haaland scored his 14th goal in all competitions with a scuffed shot from the edge of the box after Wolves defender Max Kilman stood off him.
The Norwegian striker became the first player in Premier League history to net in his first four away games, and the points were sealed when De Bruyne was again the architect with another low cross into the six-yard box which was turned home by Foden. — Sky Sports/ Sports Reporter/supersport.com.