Crewe Alexandra 1-6 Aston Villa
Aston Villa were convincing winners on the scoreboard despite a wide open contest on the pitch against Crewe at Alexandra Park in the Carabao Cup second round.
The Premier League side were clinical in front of goal, while Crewe too often misfired at the other end, as Dean Smith’s team scored three unanswered first half goals to all but wrap up the tie.
Conor Hourihane struck a brace after Ezri Konsa had opened the scoring early on, leaving Crewe staring down the barrel from the interval, with Keinan Davis, Frederic Guilbert and Jack Grealish adding second half strikes to punish the hosts.
Villa were out of the blocks and led on four minutes. A clever short corner on the left resulted in a dangerous cross into the six-yard box that Crewe failed to deal with and, after a couple of botched efforts, Konsa converted from close range.
The hosts had the ball in the Villa net on 22 minutes but the offside flag denied them, while Chris Porter also went close to getting them on terms.
That was to prove costly as Hourihane grabbed Villa’s second goal following a slick move. Henry Lansbury was played through on goal and the striker got his head up and showed an unselfish streak in squaring the ball inside for Hourihane to apply the simplest of finishes.
Three minutes into added on time at the end of the half, Villa were out of sight. Anwar El Ghazi’s teasing cross from the left was nodded down into the corner of the net by that man Hourihane.
The second half was a more pedestrian affair, with Villa in control.
They got their fourth on 69 minutes when substitute Grealish glided down the left wing and his low cross was converted by Davis from six-yards.
Heads appeared to drop in the home side at that point and on 77 minutes it was five. Lansbury took another short corner, this time finding Guilbert, who time and space to turn inside the box before curling a right-footed shot across goal into the corner.
Crewe did pick up a late consolation to show for their efforts, central defender Ryan Wintle going on a mazy run through the Villa rearguard before sliding a low shot into the bottom corner, though it was an effort matched at the other end by Grealish’s fine low strike after more good work from Lansbury.