Danny Ings makes his point to Aston Villa transfer chiefs with Wolves equaliser

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Danny Ings celebrates his equaliser for Villa
Danny Ings celebrates his equaliser for Villa

Danny Ings leapt off the bench to save Villa from derby defeat.

The former England international nabbed his seventh of the season 12 minutes from time after Julen Lopetegui’s strugglers had threatened a major upset at Villa Park. Deservedly leading thanks to an early moment of magic from Daniel Podence, the boys from the Black Country appeared to be lifting themselves out of the bottom three.

But Ings, who replaced the willing but ineffective Ollie Watkins, needed just one chance to grab a share of the spoils on a day when a loan offer from Everton had been rejected for the ex-Liverpool man - because Villa only want a permanent sale of the 30-year-old.

Wolves' defender Max Kilman went AWOL and Villa centre-half Tyrone Mings seized upon his absence, finding Ings with a simple ball over the top and the forward found the net with a trademark finish.

That goal spared the blushes of Villa keeper Emi Martinez who appeared to be going from champ to chump after Podence opened the scoring.

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Argentina’s World Cup-winning keeper was lauded to the rafters by the home fans on his return to Villa’s line-up as he was paraded around the pitch prior to kick-off, Golden Glove in hand. But his first act since returning to Unai Emery’s side was to pick the ball out of the net as the little Portuguese served up a lovely cameo to bring the south American crashing to earth with almighty bang.

Martinez was given the nod to start ahead of Robin Olson who had kept a clean sheet during Villa’s 2-0 victory at Spurs on New Year’s Day.

Wolves completely dominated the opening period and the only moan from boss Julen Lopetegui would have been that they had just one goal to show for their pressure.

That came in the 12th minute. Podence had the ball on the right. Villa failed to track the run of Joao Moutinho, switching off after a string of corners, and the Portuguese veteran found his colleague inside the area.

Sensing danger, Douglas Luiz came across to cover but a little shimmy allowed Podence to ghost his way past the Brazilian and plant a left foot shot into the corner of Martinez’s net.

Danny Ings makes his point to Aston Villa transfer chiefs with Wolves equaliserWolves celebrate after Daniel Podence opened the scoring

It should have got worse for Villa. Diego Costa just failed to reach a Podence pass that would have left him clean through. And Matheus Nunes started and almost finished a move that travelled from right to left and back again. This time, Martinez blocked.

All Villa had to show for their efforts was one Lucas Digne free-kick that Jose Sa tipped over the crossbar without too much trouble. It had to improve. It did.

The interval ruined Wolves’ fluency and, backed by an increasingly-impatient crowd, Villa finally woke up. But they found chances difficult to come by and the match passed the hour without Wolves’ keeper Sa having anything to do other than the routine.

That changed after Emery made a triple substitution. A spell of Villa pressure ended, for once, with a shot on goal.

It was a thoroughbred effort, too. Replacement left-back Ludwig Augustinsson connected beautifully with a shot on the volley and it needed a headed deflection from defender Max Kilman, retreating towards his goalline, to send the ball wide of goal. Moments later, Ings delivered his blow as Villa’s persistence finally paid off.

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Martinez stopped Rayan Ait-Nouri from snatching the winner in the dying stages - and with almost the last kick of the game, Leon Bailey rounded Sa but failed to find the net with the goal gaping.

Neil Moxley

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