BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins proved too hot to handle for the best defense in the Premier League as he scored two goals and set up another in a 3-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
Watkins’ latest brilliant performance came in front of England coach Gareth Southgate, who didn’t call up the striker for the national team’s most recent matches last month.
Watkins is in the form of his life, however, and took his tally to 11 goals in his last 12 league games by swiveling on the edge of the six-yard box and smashing home a finish to make it 2-0 in the 64th minute. He added a third in the 83rd from a close-range shot that took a slight deflection.
He also had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside when the score was 1-0, while in the first half he struck the post inside the first minute and set up Jacob Ramsey for the 11th-minute opener with an intelligent nod-down from a looping cross from the right.
Watkins has 14 goals this season, 12 of them coming since the World Cup.
The defeat was a blow to third-place Newcastle’s chances of Champions League qualification, with Villa now potentially having a chance of a top-four finish.
Transformed under Unai Emery, Villa is in sixth place after seven wins in its last eight games and now six points behind Newcastle having played one game more.
Newcastle has only conceded 24 goals in 30 league games this season, the fewest of any team in the division.
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