Aston Villa’s club-record signing Wesley showed his “massive” potential with a “colossus” display in the ruthless win at injury-hit Norwich City, says manager Dean Smith.
The 22-year-old striker scored twice as Villa moved out of the bottom three and leapfrogged their opponents in the Premier League table.
Wesley, who has been criticized by some Villa fans, opened the scoring with a neat control and finish, doubling the tally with a tap-in before missing a penalty.
Norwich continued to defend woefully after the restart, Jack Grealish allowed sweeping in a third to effectively end the home side’s hopes.
Conor Hourihane and Douglas Luiz added more as Canaries boss Daniel Farke’s 100th league game at the helm headed towards humiliation, before Josip Drmic tucked in a meaningless consolation which few inside Carrow Road even celebrated.
Villa’s stunning win moved Smith’s side up to 14th, with Norwich sliding down to third-bottom with their fifth defeat in six games.
“Wes was a handful for their two centre-halves, we got the ball into him, he kept it and it allowed us to break from him,” Smith said.
“I thought he was a colossus up front.”
Wesley goes some way to silencing the critics
Among many positives for Aston Villa, the £22m summer signing’s performance was arguably the biggest plus-point.
The Brazilian arrived under the weight of a big price tag, and therefore much expectation, but had not bowled over many Villa supporters with his performances in the opening weeks of the season.
Social media, as often the case, was the main platform for criticism of his displays, particularly after Villa twice threw away leads to draw 2-2 against Burnley last weekend.
The level of discontent forced Smith to face questions about Wesley’s pedigree going into the trip to Norwich, with the Villa boss urging patience towards the young player and backing him to become a success.
Scoring the two goals that put Villa on the path to a comfortable win certainly showed what he is capable of.
Allowed acres of space for both goals, Wesley coolly controlled Anwar El Ghazi’s cross with his chest before slotting in the first and then evaded his marker to tap in Hourihane’s low cross for the second.
A first hat-trick in English football evaded him, however, after a superb penalty save by Norwich keeper Michael McGovern.
The Northern Irishman, making his first Premier League start aged 35, dived low to his right to stop the spot-kick, reacting quickly to spread himself and push Wesley’s shot on the rebound over the bar.
“He’s a young player, he’s only 22, he’s been in Belgium for a year or two and then Slovakia before that. So it’s a new culture, a new team a new group of players, and a big price tag,” said Smith
“But he handles it well and I saw a big response from him this week.”
Asked about the criticism, Wesley added: “I don’t care about this. I keep calm, the manager and my team-mates know me. I will keep working hard and the goals will come.”
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