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Ramsey goal eases pressure on Gerrard as Aston Villa edge past Southampton

Jacob Ramsey fired Aston Villa for a vital 1-0 win over Southampton.

The midfielder’s first goal of the season lifted Villa to 13th, level on points with the visitors, and eased any pressure on manager Steven Gerrard.

The hosts built on their point against Manchester City with a professional, if not fluid display, although in reality it did little to allay their management’s long-term fears in the Premier League.

It was an unforgettable match between two sides still searching for a cohesive identity and the Saints slipped to a third defeat in four games to leave legitimate questions over boss Ralph Hasenhuttl’s future.

Bottom fourth at kick-off, Villa had won just one of their previous 10 league games and, in truth, did little to suggest they would better that record for the majority of the first half.

It took 34 minutes for Philippe Coutinho, who had scored just once and hadn’t provided an assist since March, to create a rare chance when he pulled away from James Ward-Prowse and perforated.

The lack of action underscored the scrappy nature of a match where two teams worked at a pedestrian pace.

Southampton had looked more accomplished in possession in the early stages, but once John McGinn and Coutinho showed some urgency the hosts squirmed in front at the break.

Four minutes before the break, Coutinho’s header from the far post was shoveled behind and from the resulting corner Villa snatched the header.

It was played short to Coutinho to find Ollie Watkins, whose head was turned over the bar by Gavin Bazunu. Southampton failed to clear the ball on a loop and Ramsey slammed in from five yards out.

Under tension, Villa pushed for a second with Leon Bailey’s shot deflected wide and Douglas Luiz’s corner returned by Bazunu.

The dramatic half-time finale did not match the lackluster opening 40 minutes and Villa had to be aware that all of Southampton’s previous points had come from losing positions.

But the Saints never threatened, leaving Emi Martinez alone and allowing Villa to comfortably hold their lead.

The hosts didn’t seem to want to add much, although Ramsey saw a blocked shot, and after Stuart Armstrong looked wide in stoppage time, the slim advantage was enough.

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