Ollie Watkins scored a late winner against his former club and sparked a goalmouth melee with his celebrations as Aston Villa came from behind to win 2-1 at Brentford in the Premier League on Sunday.
Villa moved fleetingly into second place in the standings but dropped back down to third after Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United in the later kickoff put the northern club in the second spot.
Villa started brightly but spurned several first-half chances with Matty Cash and Jacob Ramsey both putting efforts wide from close range.
Instead, the Bees broke the deadlock just before halftime through Keane Lewis-Potter, who reacted first to win the second ball at a corner and fire home his first Premier League goal.
Brentford’s Ben Mee was sent off after 71 minutes for a reckless lunge on substitute Leon Bailey, after the intervention of VAR to upgrade the yellow given by referee David Coote.
Bees manager Thomas Frank told reporters that Mee’s challenge was “not a red card, not at all”.
He said Brentford should have had a penalty in the first half, when John McGinn appeared to drag Mee to the floor, and also for a challenge on Neal Maupay shortly after Mee’s red.
“That would be 2-0… and then it would be, if not game over, then a very good position,” Frank said.
But Villa made the numerical advantage count six minutes later when Bailey found Alex Moreno unmarked at the back post to level the contest with a cool header.
The visitors then took the lead after 85 minutes through Watkins, who nodded home Ramsey’s corner and celebrated in front of his former fans, prompting ugly scenes in the Brentford net.
Watkins said he still loved Brentford, where he spent three seasons, but his reaction was directed at “one person who was abusing me all game”.
“I feel like I’ve done so much for the club and they’ve done so much for me; football’s football and you can have a bit of banter but not when it’s personal,” Watkins told Sky Sports.
Villa boss Unai Emery said he did not know what exactly had happened and that he would speak to Watkins and his players about the game on Monday.
Villa’s Boubacar Kamara was also sent off, for grabbing Yehor Yarmoliuk by the neck, in added time after Villa keeper Emi Martinez’s attempt to drag Maupay to his feet prompted another flashpoint as an entertaining game ended in chaos.
Coote booked 10 players in total plus both managers, Frank for his complaints after Mee’s red card and Emery for going on to the pitch to restrain Martinez, with all 14 cards coming in the second half as tensions boiled over.
The win, Villa’s fifth in six league games, put them on 38 points, the same as Liverpool, who have a better goal difference, and one point behind leaders Arsenal. Brentford, who suffered a fifth league defeat in six games, are 12th on 19.