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A near-faultless show

. . . Nakamba impresses for Villa in 2-0 win

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ZIMBABWE international Marvelous Nakamba played the game of his life in Aston Villa’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in an English Premier Soccer League encounter at Villa Park on Saturday as the Warriors midfielder fights for his survival at the club.
The Zimbabwean midfielder has struggled for game time this season and Saturday’s EPL match against the Magpies was only Nakamba’s second Premier League start.

His first EPL start was in Aston Villa’s nil-all draw at home against Burnley on December 17 last year while he also got in as a stoppage time substitute in Villa’s 0-1 win over Wolves in December, replacing 19-year-old midfielder Jacob Ramsey.

In Saturday’s win, the 27-yearold Zimbabwean did not disappoint as he grabbed the opportunity with both hands after coming in to replace John McGinn, who was serving a one-match suspension.

McGinn received his fifth booking of the season in Aston Villa’s 2-0 defeat away at Manchester City in a midweek fixture. According to the match statistics compiled on Aston Villa’s twitter account, under the banner “a near faultless display” Nakamba had 67 passes attempted, 66 completed passes, two interceptions, two tackles won, an aerial duel won and a single clearance.

Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore scored in the second half as Villa moved into eighth position with 29 points, 11 adrift of log leaders Manchester United with two games in hand.

Villa head coach Dean Smith, who followed the night’s proceedings from the directors’ box after seeing red against Manchester City, praised the Zimbabwean for playing a blinder of a match.

“Marvelous has come in for John McGinn and I thought he had an excellent game on the ball,” Smith told Villa TV during the post-match interview. “I’m really pleased because we’ve just lost a couple of games away from home against the two Manchester teams and this was one of our games in hand that had been cancelled with the outbreak that Newcastle had.

“So we knew how important it was to continue our consistency in the league this season. It was a good, solid performance, certainly the first half, second half I thought we overplayed a little bit too much at times.

“But for a final ball, I thought we could have scored a couple more as well. “But, again, team spirit, workrate, effort, everything there is there for all to see. “Our quality on the ball, I thought we controlled the ball really well.” Nakamba made his senior debut with Bulawayo side Bantu Rovers in 2010 then coached by former Highlanders and Warriors midfielder Mathembe Nldovu before he moved to France where he was signed by Nancy in December 2012.

In 2014 he left for Netherlands after signing with Eredivisie side Vitesse before Club Brugge of Belgium came calling in 2017 and eventually signing for Aston Villa in August 2019.

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