London: Jack Grealish shone on his comeback from injury for Aston Villa as Newcastle manager Steve Bruce’s return to his former club ended in a dreadful 2-0 Premier League defeat on Monday.
Goals from Villa’s Conor Hourihane and Anwar El Ghazi in the space of four first-half minutes eased their recent woes after a run of three straight defeats.
Grealish, sidelined for the 2-1 defeats at home to Liverpool and at Wolves with a thigh strain, again provided the spark Villa had been missing in those games.
Left-back Targett was the victim of a bizarre 20th-minute incident when he vomited on the pitch just after he had taken a throw-in — but after treatment and water the summer signing from Southampton was able to continue.
Villa were always the more threatening side.
The first arrived in the 32nd minute as Grealish raced onto a raking through ball, only for the attacking midfielder to be blatantly pushed in the back by the covering DeAndre Yedlin a yard outside the area.
Four minutes later Villa doubled their lead, with Grealish again drawing a foul, although it appeared as if he had deliberately caught the outstretched leg of Federico Fernandez.
On this occasion, Hourihane curled a piercing low ball into the six-yard box, and with Newcastle’s defence leaden-footed, El Ghazi easily stabbed home his fourth goal of the season from three yards.
It prompted cries from the Villa fans of ‘Brucey, Brucey what’s the score?’ as the home faithful teased their former boss.
Despite Bruce playing all three substitutes, including strikers Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, his side were unable to find a way back into the game.