REPORT: Aston Villa 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 – Abraham and Mings do the damage as England boss watches on – pictures and video
Gareth Southgate watched Aston Villa squeeze past Blackburn as the claret and blues recorded a fifth straight win.
The England boss made it his mission to check out Jack Grealish up close and personal after receiving rave reviews following the midfielder’s return from injury.
But on an afternoon of high drama, it wasn’t just Grealish who left a lasting impression on the Three Lions chief.
Tammy Abraham scored his 22nd goal of the season to open the scoring and Tyrone Mings headed home a second – the latter leaving Southgate with food for thought after another colossal display in the heart of defence.
But this was no easy win for the in-form team of the Championship who made serious hard work of a game that should have been wrapped up by half-time.
That they weren’t home and dry by the break remains a mystery.
A John McGinn-inspired blitz saw Villa rip Blackburn to shreds and if it wasn’t for goalkeeper David Raya denying both the Scot and Abraham, the scoreline would have been even greater.
For the opener, McGinn superbly played in Anwar El Ghazi who put it on a plate for Abraham.
Then the middle man crossed for Mings who planted a header home.
But Blackburn had their moments – Craig Conway hitting the bar in the first half and Adam Armstrong missing a sitter when he was put through after the break.
Former Blues defender Amari’i Bell pulled one back as Jed Steer palmed Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick into his path and that set up a frantic finish.
But Villa were able to see it out – just about.