Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard described Philippe Coutinho as “over the game” after his masterclass in the 4-0 win over Southampton.
The Barcelona forward on loan scored one goal, set up Douglas Luiz for another and could have scored a hat-trick in a virtuoso display, while Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings were also on the scoresheet.
“I sometimes thought, with all due respect to everyone else on the pitch, that he (Coutinho) showed a level that was above the game,” said Gerrard.
“He really showed his old form and it was a pleasure to be at the stadium.
“I found its quality at a high level. He could have shot himself but set up Douglas Luiz for a tap-in and that shows what a team player we are dealing with here.
“Ollie went through and could have given Phil another assist but Fraser pulled a top save from him. For me he was the man of the match.”
Gerrard also praised Ings, who also requested two assists against the club he joined for £25million from last summer.
“Right now Danny can’t be focused as his wife is about to give birth,” Gerrard added.
“But his focus on being ‘all in’ and giving his best for the team was excellent.
“He was injured when we came in but he is fine physically now and has done a lot of good things.
“He set up the first goal, he scored and the work he does for the team to secure the ball is very important to us.”
Villa were ahead in the ninth minute when Watkins turned Oriol Romeu with ease before calmly rolling a shot home after Ings gave the pass.
Coutinho prepared the second goal. With an excellent move, he overcame the offside trap as he latched on to Calum Chambers’ chip and selflessly ran into Luiz in the 44th minute to knock home.
Villa took the points with more goals within nine minutes of the restart.
Coutinho spun one way and then the other before firing through Fraser Forster’s legs in the 52nd minute after Ings cut the ball back.
Two minutes later, Ings scored with a first shot, which was deflected by Forster into the far corner of Matty Cash’s cross.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted his side were nowhere near good enough as their five-game unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end.
“It just wasn’t good enough against a very aggressive home team,” he said.
“They wanted to turn things around at home and from the moment you walked in you could tell they wanted it more than they did.
“We had a good run, but this defeat is huge. Everything wasn’t good enough today. In one game, all the bad things came together.
“I wasn’t too happy with our technical performance either; We had big problems with (Philippe Coutinho) and the place he got.
“We weren’t aggressive enough and good football isn’t enough for us to win against a team like that.
“Congratulations to Villa, they were simply better than us. Now we have a chance to build another run and we will try that.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/aston-villa-boss-steven-gerrard-hails-philippe-coutinho-after-hammering-saints-41415238.html Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard hails Philippe Coutinho after hammering Saints