Ayew's second-half penalty earned Garde's men a 1-1 draw at Villa Park on Saturday, but the result could have been better were it not for a handful of missed chances from Gestede.
While Rudy Gestede’s wayward finishing proved costly as Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham United on Saturday afternoon, manager Remi Garde was reluctant to lay the blame on him at the final whistle.
The towering striker was brought back into the line-up for the Hammers clash after a strong showing off the bench in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United, but he proceeded to miss three golden chances as Villa failed to capitalise on a dominant performance.
However, the 27-year-old target man did crucially win the penalty for Jordan Ayew to cancel out Aaron Creswell’s first-half opener just after the hour, and having also troubled the opposition defence throughout with his height, strength and impressive work rate, Garde was instead full of praise for him after the game.
Speaking to the club’s official website, the Frenchman said: “Football is about creating chances and converting chances. Rudy is not lucky at the moment. But he worked very hard for the team.
“Sometimes he had chances but I won't blame him - I won't blame anyone today. We gave everything in terms of individuals - and the collective.”
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Gestede may have endured mixed fortunes at Villa Park, but it was another excellent afternoon for strike-partner Ayew.
The Ghana international made it five goals in his last nine Premier League games when he dispatched the equaliser from the spot after Gestede went down under Angelo Ogbonna’s rash challenge, while his pace and tireless running also caused serious problems for the visitors.
After a slow start to life at Villa, the summer signing from Lorient has been the club’s standout performer since Garde replaced Tim Sherwood at the helm at the start of November, and that fact has not been lost on his new boss.
“It was a very calm technique for the goal - all the qualities you need in this kind of situation,” added Garde. “He has been brilliant working hard for the team. He was helped by Rudy Gestede's work, which was very good.”
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Despite Ayew’s recent displays, Villa still sit nine points from safety at the foot of the Premier League, having taken just eight points from 18 games and gone winless since beating Bournemouth 1-0 on the opening day.
Nevertheless, performance have improved over Garde’s first seven matches in charge, and after putting in one of their best showings of the season against West Ham, the ex-Lyon manager is feeling encouraged about his side’s survival chances.
“If you add the last 45 minutes at Newcastle, it's now a long time that we played good football,” he told avfc.co.uk. “We haven't been rewarded with the goals. It's a little bit frustrating.
“But to be fair the way we put them under pressure today was a very nice feeling. I mean the players did very well - what I was looking for. I am very disappointed for the lads because they fought very hard for 90 minutes.”
Villa’s next opportunity to end their 17-match winless run in the top-flight comes on Monday night when they travel to Norwich City, who sit in 17th-place on 17 points following a 3-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.