Ollie Watkins continues red-hot form as Aston Villa ease past AZ Alkmaar

Ollie Watkins continued his red-hot form as Aston Villa cruised to a statement 4-1 Europa Conference League win at AZ Alkmaar.

The striker netted his 10th goal of the season and fourth in Europe this season on Thursday.

Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans – his first for Villa – put them in control in AZ Stadium after less than 25 minutes.

Vangelis Pavlidis wasted the hosts’ best chances but Watkins and John McGinn added more goals after the break in Holland before Ibrahim Sadiq grabbed a consolation.

It was the second time in two games Villa had scored four after their 4-1 Premier League win over West Ham on Sunday.

Unai Emery celebrated a year in charge on Tuesday and victory underlined the progress his side have made, having been floundering in 14th and three points above the relegation zone 12 months ago.

Villa host Alkmaar in two weeks knowing victory would see them take a giant leap to the knock-out stages, especially following an opening 3-2 defeat at Legia Warsaw in September.

After two games in Group E, all four teams were locked on three points but Villa moved to remedy that quickly, opening the scoring just 13 minutes in.

Aston Villa's Youri Tielemans celebrates
Youri Tielemans scored his first goal for Villa on Thursday night (Patrick Post/AP)

Watkins seized on a loose pass from Yukinari Sugawara and, while Boubacar Kamara’s ball was cut out, it fell for Bailey to control and rifle in low from the edge of the box.

Alkmaar cried handball but the goal stood and 10 minutes later, the hosts were 2-0 down.

Another poor pass, this time from Sven Mijnans, went straight to McGinn and his angled pass found Tielemans to bag his first Villa goal.

Yet, 90 seconds later, the hosts should have pulled a goal back when Pavlidis fired over with just Emi Martinez to beat after Kamara was dispossessed on the edge of the box.

Pavlidis had a goal disallowed for offside soon after but Villa regrouped and extended their lead six minutes after the break.

AZ were picked apart by Watkins, Tielemans and Bailey, who saw his shot saved by Matt Ryan but it fell perfectly for Watkins to tap in the rebound.

Five minutes later McGinn added a fourth when he turned in Bailey’s low cross at the near post.

Sadiq pulled a surprise goal back with 25 minutes left when he latched onto Bruno Martins Indi’s crossfield pass and drilled the ball into the corner from the edge of the box.

Tiago Dantas came close to a second, Tielemans deflecting his drive behind, with a comeback never on the cards.