Villa scores 89th-minute winner to beat Luton and strengthen place in Champions League spots

LUTON, England (AP) — Ollie Watkins scored two first-half goals and Lucas Digne grabbed an 89th-minute winner for Aston Villa in its 3-2 victory over Luton in the English Premier League, strengthening the team’s place in the Champions League qualification spots.

Digne came off the bench to head home the clinching goal at Kenilworth Road, just when Luton looked like claiming a point from 2-0 down.

Watkins moved onto 16 league goals — behind only Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (17) — with clinical finishes in the 24th and 38th minutes.

Luton, which is third from last and four points adrift of safety, responded with a strong second-half display and scored through Tahith Chong and Carlton Morris.

Digne and Moussa Diaby were among four substitutes to enter in the 79th minute in a bold move by Villa manager Unai Emery. It paid off as Diaby provided the cross for Digne’s goal.

Villa stayed in fourth and five points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham, which beat Crystal Palace 3-1 earlier Saturday. Spurs have a game in hand.

Manchester United is a further six points back in sixth ahead of playing Man City on Sunday.

The top four are guaranteed to qualify for the Champions League and the fifth-place finisher could, too, depending on the performance of English clubs in European competitions this season.


AP soccer:

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