Aston Villa came from behind to beat local rivals West Brom, to give themselves an advantage heading into Tuesday’s second leg at The Hawthorns.
It seemed as though it would be a frustrating afternoon for Villa, who had trailed after Dwight Gayle capitalised on a mistake in the first half.
Despite dominating possession and territory, they failed to create clear chances for much of the game. However, things changed in the final quarter when Dean Smith made two subs, including bringing on Conor Hourihane for Glenn Whelan.
The introduction of the Irish international seemed to give Villa more spark as they moved the ball quicker and started to find space against a tiring Baggies defence.
And, Hourihane exploited that when the visitors left him free outside the box in the 75th minute, when he smashed an excellent shot into the top corner.
With all the momentum, they scored a winner just minutes later to give them a great chance of reaching the play-off final again and it’s fair to say the fans appreciated the role the 28-year-old played.
Here’s some of the reaction to his display on twitter…
— Nick (@NickRedV) May 11, 2019
— Hay (@R0lfeyy) May 11, 2019
Regardless of what people say about Hourihane he always has a goal/assist in his locker, game changer #AVFC
— Jack Millman (@LordMillman29) May 11, 2019
— I’m Hard 4 Aston Villa (@Hard4AstonVilla) May 11, 2019
For me Hourihane was the difference, let grealish be more free when he came on. Tuanzebe was class all game. Green looked good off the bench, Taylor was shaky. Villa fans were class all game, supported throughout #AVFC #UTV
— Dan (@Daniel_Cahill97) May 11, 2019
Honestly, have we ever had a more underrated player than Conor Hourihane? Always, always delivers when we need it most. Big game player and we’re lucky to have him. #AVFC
— _ (@WanDilliams) May 11, 2019
Conor Hourihane is your favourite player’s favourite player #AVFC
— Chris Kennedy (@ChrisK9595) May 11, 2019