Match Reports

Delight for Deniz after double in the desert

Brought to you by...

Striker's goals earn Albion a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.

By Bruce Talbot • 08 December 2022

By Neville Williams
Pascal Gross fights for possession with Emi Buendia.

Deniz Undav struck twice in the second half as Albion drew 2-2 with Aston Villa in a friendly at the end of a successful warm-weather training camp in Dubai on Thursday.

Villa had gone in front through Danny Ings – whose two goals sunk Albion when the teams met in their last Premier League game at the Amex five weeks ago. But Undav produced two fine finishes in the space of 11 minutes before Ings bundled home his second in the closing stages to ensure it finished honours even.

With Alexis Mac Allister still at the World Cup and seven other Albion players recovering from their exertions in Qatar, there was an opportunity for Andrew Moran in the starting XI and the young midfielder looked composed and inventive on the ball in the early stages, as Albion settled quicker.

Julio Enciso, operating wide on the left, also looked lively in the opening 15 minutes before Villa worked their way back into the game.

By Neville Williams
Adam Lallana in action against Unai Emery's team.

They nearly opened the scoring after Leon Bailey’s shot was deflected for a corner after he had latched onto a long throw-out by keeper Robin Olsen. Undav inadvertently flicked the corner towards his own goal, but Jason Steele sprung to his right to make a good save.

Steele then got both hands on Douglas Luiz’s free-kick from 22 yards after a foul by Joel Veltman. There was certainly a competitive edge in the early stages with some strong challenges, before a water break after 25 minutes seemed to take the heat out of things.

Enciso glided inside but his low drive didn’t trouble Olsen and Albion had to readjust when first Danny Welbeck and then Adam Webster had to go off with Cam Peupion and Jan Paul van Hecke replacing them.

Albion had a good spell before half-time and put together a great move which almost led to a goal. Steele started it by playing out to Lewis Dunk and Adam Lallana, Enciso and Undav were also involved as Albion swept impressively upfield. Undav laid the ball back into Peupion’s path and while his shot had plenty of power, Olsen made a good save. The Australian’s effort was certainly more accurate than some of those indiscriminately splattering each other in the paintball arena next to the stadium.

Jack Hinshelwood replaced Adam Lallana at the break and Villa nearly broke the deadlock a minute into the second half when Bailey was put through by Emi Buendia’s pass but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Albion responded when Hinshelwood and Peupion combined down the right. The ball was worked into the box where Undav laid it off to Pascal Gross but his effort was always rising over the target.

Villa broke the deadlock in the 70th minute when Ings, who had come off the bench a few minutes earlier, slotted into an empty net from a yard out after a mistake at the back by Albion.

By Neville Williams
Albion faced Aston Villa in their last Premier League outing before the break for the World Cup.

But we responded to level five minutes later. The impressive Moran slipped Undav in and the German timed his run well before drilling a low right-foot shot across Olsen into the bottom corner.

Albion threatened again when a sweeping cross-field right to left move ended with March volleying straight at Olsen before Gross swung in a cross from the left but Joel Veltman couldn’t direct his header on target. Albion had the momentum though and they went in front after 81 minutes when Albion’s press won the ball back, Gross found Undav in a yard of space and although his connection wasn’t the sweetest, it found the bottom right-hand corner.

There was to be one late twist though. Villa substitute Arjan Raikhy broke into space down the left and his low ball across the face of goal was turned in by Ings.

Albion: Steele, Veltman, Webster (van Hecke 34), Dunk ©, Gross, Lallana (Hinshelwood 45), Moran, Enciso (Offiah 75), March, Undav, Welbeck (Peupion 25).

Subs: McGill, Cahill, Gilmour, Ferguson, Turns, Colwill, Tsoungui, Samuels, Spong, Barrington.