Aston Villa boss Remi Garde lavishes praise on Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede after Newcastle draw

Rémi Garde

Ayew's second-half strike earned Villa a 1-1 draw at St James' Park on Saturday after Gestede's introduction off the bench helped turn the tide of the match.

Jordan Ayew and substitute Rudy Gestede both played key roles in helping Aston Villa secure a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United on Saturday evening, and that fact was certainly not lost on manager Remi Garde.

Villa found themselves 1-0 down at St James’ Park seven minutes before the break after some poor defending allowed Fabricio Coloccini to tap home from a Siem de Jong corner, but a much improved second-half performance saw them fight back to earn a deserved point.

Ayew lead the way with a man of the match display, as he not only netted a stunning 61st-minute equaliser but also proved a real menace for the opposition defence with his pace and work rate, while Gestede freed up his fellow striker to do his best work after he replaced the ineffective Scott Sinclair just before the hour.

The 27-year-old’s height and physicality up top was perfectly suited for the difficult conditions, and while he failed to finish a couple of headed chances which could have handed Villa all three points, he showed the kind of drive and determination that has been lacking from his game in recent weeks.

Speaking to AVTV after Saturday’s match, Garde was highly complementary of the towering front man’s impact, while suggesting that he could be set to reclaim his place in the starting XI for next weekend’s visit of West Ham United.

“He came in very well,” said the Villa boss. “His character was outstanding as well. He gave us a big target forward to come back in the second half – especially with the bad quality of the pitch with all the rain.

“The fact that Rudy was on the pitch meant we could play more direct. We adapted very well from that and were more threatening to them. He could have scored as well with a header from a corner. These are all positive things which we need to remember for the next game.”

Ayew unsurprisingly earned plenty of praise as well for his standout display – the latest in a string of impressive performances since Garde replaced Tim Sherwood at the helm at the start of November.

The summer signing from Lorient endured a slow start to life in England, as he failed to score in his first seven appearances for Villa, but he has since found his feet with four goals in his last eight games.

His latest strike – a right-footed rocket into the top corner from inside the area – has been the pick of the bunch, but his new boss was also quick to point out just how much work he does for the team on both sides of the ball.

“It was a tremendous strike,” Garde told AVTV. “For me he has been rewarded for all the work he did for the team. He worked very hard defensively and offensively. He’s a very gifted player, but he works so hard in training sessions to give the best for the team. I’m very happy for him.”

Despite Saturday’s draw, results elsewhere mean Villa now sit 10 points from safety at the bottom of the table, having taken just seven points from 17 games and gone winless since beating Bournemouth 1-0 in their season opener.

Their next opportunity to break that run will come on Boxing Day when they host West Ham, and Garde believes the second half performance at Newcastle will give them a vital boost of confidence going into the match.

“I think it could be very important,” he added. “Newcastle won the last two games which is a huge confidence boost for them, but then you saw in the second half that we are not far away from this kind of team in terms of our game and the way we played.”

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