Aston Villa 2-0 Crystal Palace: Trezeguet scores twice in controversial win

Trezeguet had scored only three goals in his previous 30 Premier League matches

Trezeguet scored twice as Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation in a game which included two controversial video assistant referee decisions.

Mamadou Sakho thought he had put Palace ahead when the ball appeared to strike the defender’s shoulder on its way into the net – but it was ruled out for handball after a lengthy delay, much to the visitors’ dismay.

Villa then took the lead just before half-time when Egypt winger Trezeguet side-footed the ball into the net at the back post after Palace had failed to clear a free-kick.

Shortly after the break, the hosts were awarded a penalty by referee Martin Atkinson after Patrick van Aanholt’s challenge on Jack Grealish, but the decision was overturned after another long VAR check.

Villa’s first Premier League win since 21 January was sealed when Trezeguet toe-poked home his second goal to leave the West Midlands side four points from safety with three matches, against Everton (away), Arsenal (home) and West Ham (away), to go.

After the final whistle, Christian Benteke, who was playing against his former club, was shown a red card as tempers boiled over.

Palace, who have now lost their past five league games, started with Wilfried Zaha, who revealed before the match he had received racist abuse on social media.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson described the abuse of the 27-year-old Ivory Coast forward as “cowardly and despicable”.

Huge three points for Villa

Villa are running out of time to pull off a miraculous escape but a first win in 11 league games at least gives them a fighting chance.

After victories for fellow strugglers Watford and West Ham United on Saturday, the visit of Palace was a must-win game for Villa and Dean Smith’s side delivered – even if they did require a slice of luck to achieve it.

With the game goalless, it appeared a harsh VAR decision to deny Sakho a goal because of handball as Luka Milivojevic’s looping ball appeared to come off the defender’s shoulder on its way past keeper Pepe Reina.

Villa recovered from that scare to seize control, Mbwana Samatta heading over a good chance before Grealish was denied by a good Vicente Guaita save.

The breakthrough came on the stroke of half-time, Trezeguet pouncing after a free-kick was inadvertently flicked on by Joel Ward into the path of the forward.

Villa kept their focus after having Atkinson’s decision to award a penalty overturned, and Trezeguet struck a crucial second after the ball fell to him inside the penalty area.

Reina produced a fine stop to keep out Van Aanholt soon after Guaita had prevented Conor Hourihane from making it 3-0.

Villa’s aim is to be in with a chance of staying up by the time they face West Ham on the final day of the season on 26 July. This result at least gives them hope.

More to follow.