Aston Villa ended a run of three straight Premier League defeats with a convincing victory against Newcastle United
Conor Hourihane scored the opener and provided an assist on his return to the team to inspire a much-needed win.
The Irish midfielder curled a free-kick around the wall to open the scoring before he teed up Anwar El Ghazi to double the lead from another set-piece.
At the other end, Tom Heaton was called upon to make a couple of crucial saves, but Villa stood firm to record a clean sheet and earn a crucial three points.
With Grealish, Luiz and the Irishman all keen to strike a free-kick on the edge of the box, it was Hourihane who stepped up.
And the home fans were grateful he did as he sent a curling left-footed strike around the wall and past the stranded Martin Dubravka.
The 28-year-old’s influence didn’t end there, however, as minutes later his set piece delivery left Anwar El Ghazi with a tap-in to make it 2-0.
From one to 11, Villa were far superior to the Magpies.
The returning Tom Heaton made a couple of crucial saves to deny the visitors, while Konsa and Mings marshalled the back four superbly.
In midfield, Villa’s work-rate and creativity kept the ball away from Newcastle’s playmakers while making sure they were hassled in possession.
Jack Grealish returned after missing the defeat at Molineux, and his influence was there for all to see.
The homegrown star glided past black and white shirts, picking apart the Newcastle defence.
His return to the team was a welcome sight for every Villa fan, particularly with a tough run of games coming up.
Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge await for Villa as the team hit the road to take on Manchester United on 1st December and Chelsea three days later.
Smith’s side return to Villa Park on 8th December to face Leicester City.