Saudi-owned Newcastle thrashes Villa 4-0, cements top-4 spot

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Saudi-owned Newcastle cemented its place in the English Premier League top four with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Striker Callum Wilson scored twice and the in-form Miguel Almiron also netted at St. James’ Park.

Wilson slotted a penalty down the middle in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time after Almiron’s goal-bound shot was blocked by the outstretched hand of Villa left back Ashley Young.

Wilson, who is pushing for an England callup for the World Cup, headed in Kieran Trippier’s cross following a well-worked corner routine in the 56th minute and then helped set up the other two goals.

Wilson’s shot was saved by Robin Olsen — on as a concussion substitute for Emi Martinez in the first half — only for the rebound to fall to Joelinton, who steered the ball home from close range in the 59th.

Almiron completed the thrashing eight minutes later, scoring his sixth goal in as many games by collecting Wilson’s pass on the right, cutting inside and curling exquisitely into the far top corner.

It could have been much worse for Villa, as Wilson and substitute Jacob Murphy struck the goal frame in the final 20 minutes. Newcastle secured a fifth win in its last six games.

Newcastle started the game in fourth place and consolidated that position after fifth-placed Chelsea’s loss at Brighton.

It was Villa’s second and final game under the interim control of assistant coach Aaron Danks, who stepped in to lead the team after the firing of Steven Gerrard and oversaw a 4-0 win over Brentford last weekend.

Unai Emery was hired this week as the permanent replacement for Gerrard and will start his new job on Tuesday.

Martinez needed a lengthy period of treatment after taking a blow to the head from his teammate, Tyrone Mings, midway through the first half. The Argentina goalkeeper played on briefly but then sat down and was replaced by Olsen.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup

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