Aston Villa got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start thanks to a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United at Villa Park on Monday evening, with the visitors playing over 80 minutes with 10 men.
John Egan's dismissal for denying Ollie Watkins a goalscoring opportunity after just 11 minutes changed the complexion of the game, with Sheffield United forced to sit deep, soak up Villa pressure and play on the counter attack.
Their game plan almost came to fruition in the first half after an instinctive break resulted in the Blades being awarded a penalty following Matt Targett's foul on Chris Basham, but John Lundstram's penalty was superbly saved by Emi Martinez.
The Blades defended robustly and resolutely, keeping their shape well and frustrating Villa. However, the hosts eventually took the lead just after the hour mark as Ezri Konsa headed home from a corner to give Villa all three points.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Emiliano Martínez (GK) - 8/10 - His Villa debut could not have got off to a better start as the former Arsenal man produced a terrific stretching save to tip Lundstram's penalty around the post. Was otherwise untroubled.
Matt Targett (LB) - 5/10 - Allowed Basham to get the wrong side of him before committing a clumsy foul that led to Villa conceding a penalty, but Martinez spared his blushes.
Tyrone Mings (CB) - 7/10 - His searching pass sent Watkins away and subsequently resulted in Egan being sent off, and he then flicked on the corner that led to Konsa's opening goal. Good distribution throughout, had very little to do defensively.
Ezri Konsa (CB) - 8/10 - Gave Villa the lead with a glancing header from a corner. Very solid defensively.
Matty Cash (RB) - 8/10 - A thoroughly assured Premier League debut from the arrival from Nottingham Forest. Sent in a selection of excellent, whipped deliveries from the right flank and stuck to his defensive duties well.
Douglas Luiz (CM) - 7/10 - Kept Villa ticking over in possession and played a particularly excellent lofted pass to get Grealish in behind which, had the Villa captain controlled better, could have seen him through on goal.
John McGinn (CM) - 6/10 - Combined well with Grealish at times, with Villa looking their most dangerous when the midfield patiently worked the ball into the box.
Connor Hourihane (CM) - 6/10 - Sent a half chance over from outside the box after being teed up by Grealish. Villa always looked dangerous from his wicked set piece deliveries. Was replaced just before Villa opened the scoring.
Jack Grealish (FW) - 6/10 - Typically lively and involved and efficient in possession, but was forced to drop deeper and deeper to receive the ball as the Blades defended resolutely. Villa looked most dangerous when he was able to worm his way into the box.
Ollie Watkins (FW) - 6/10 - Demonstrated good anticipation, strength and pace to get on the end of Mings' long ball and get in behind Egan, ultimately leading to the Blades' captain seeing red. Curled an effort just over in the second half.
Trézéguet (FW) - 5/10 - A quiet evening from the Egyptian - carelessly volleyed Grealish's clever pass well over in his only sniff of goal.
Keinan Davis - 6/10
5. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) - 6/10 - Claimed numerous crosses effectively and could have done little about Konsa's goal.
George Baldock (RB) - 7/10 - Typified United's dogged, disciplined and resilient display with a robust defensive performance, and always looked dangerous when getting forward. Combined well with Basham throughout.
Chris Basham (CB) - 7/10 - Being a man down could not prevent the centre half adventurously marauding forward into the Villa area to win his side a penalty. Moved into midfield towards the end of the first half as the Blades' shifted to four at the back following Egan's sending off.
John Egan (CB) - 4/10 - Was sent off inside 11 minutes after being caught out by the pace of Watkins in behind and hoisting back the Villa forward, denying him a goalscoring opportunity.
Jack O'Connell (CB) - 7/10 - Made a particularly important headed clearance from a dangerous Hourihane free kick and dealt well with crosses into the box all evening, throwing his head at everything and anything.
Enda Stevens (LB) - 6/10 - Was out-jumped Konsa for Villa's goal, but worked tirelessly as United defended cross after cross.
John Lundstram (CM) - 6/10 - Found Burke with a terrific pass to trigger a Blades' counter attack which ultimately led to his side being awarded a penalty. However, he saw his spot kick well saved by Martinez. Was his typical energetic, hard working self throughout.
Sander Berge (CM) - 6/10 - Disciplined, robust and tidy in possession - did well to dispossess Grealish when the Villa talisman looked threatening on the edge of the United box in the first half.
John Fleck (CM) - 6/10 - Slipped a terrific ball through to Berge in the second half, but the Norwegian midfielder could not sort his feet out. Ran his socks off, before being replaced just after the hour.
Oliver Burke (ST) - 6/10 - Demonstrated excellent speed to get on the end of Lundstram's searching pass, followed by superb vision and weight of pass to pick out Basham in the build up to United's penalty. Was otherwise quiet as United were forced to defend deep and play on the counter.
David McGoldrick (ST) - 5/10 - Was substituted after half an hour, sacrificed to enable United to bring on an additional centre half following Egan's dismissal. Won one flick on in the air but rarely saw the ball as the Blades defended deep for 20 minutes after going down to 10 men.
Ethan Ampadu - 6/10
Ben Osborn - 5/10
Oli McBurnie - 5/10