Matty Cash scored a brace on his 100th Aston Villa appearance to inspire Unai Emery’s free-flowing outfit to a 3-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
Cash came into the side as the only unenforced change from Villa’s 5-0 midweek Europa Conference League play-off win over Hibernian, and ensured there was no European hangover for his side as he scored twice in the opening 20 minutes.
Lyle Foster gave Burnley hope with a powerful strike two minutes into the second half, but Moussa Diaby restored Villa’s two-goal advantage just after the hour as they ended a five-match winless league run on the road.
Burnley built their Sky Bet Championship title on the back of a 21-match unbeaten run at home, but have started life back in the Premier League with back-to-back defeats at Turf Moor.
Cash, playing in an advanced role on the right side of Villa’s midfield, needed only eight minutes to break the deadlock, sliding in to poke home Ollie Watkins’ cross after John McGinn’s lofted ball over the top had left Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford caught in two minds.
It was the Poland international’s first goal since the final day of the 2021-22 season and the drama of Manchester City’s title-winning come-from-behind win over Villa, but there would soon be another with Cash at the heart of a slick passing move.
Cutting in from the right to collect Watkins’ pass, Cash laid the ball off for Diaby on the right side of the box, then charged into the centre to lash home the resulting cross.
Burnley looked rusty after the postponement of last weekend’s trip to Luton left them with an enforced rest and were being overrun defensively as the chances kept coming.
Cash, brimming with confidence, tried a spectacular volley from Lucas Digne’s deep cross in the 35th minute, but Hannes Delcroix, making his Burnley debut after arriving in midweek from Anderlecht, got in a block to send it over the crossbar.
Cash again linked up with Diaby, whose deflected cross found Watkins, but Trafford was in the right place to deny him from point-blank range.
Burnley had done little to threaten the goal of Robin Olsen, making his first Premier League start since New Year’s Day with Emi Martinez sidelined by a calf strain, but things changed immediately at the start of the second half.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson, on as a substitute, headed a deep ball back into the box and Foster had the power to hold off Pau Torres, spinning to fire beyond Olsen.
Burnley were suddenly on top. Sander Berge sent in a cross begging for a touch, then Zeki Amdouni caused panic between Torres and Olsen.
More confusion between Olsen and Boubacar Kamara allowed Berge to run into the box, winning a corner from which Olsen did well to deny Delcroix a debut goal.
Having coped with the pressure, Villa hit Burnley on the break just after the hour. McGinn shrugged off a shirt pull from Ameen Al-Dakhil to play in Digne, who pulled the ball back for Diaby to find the bottom right corner – the goal surviving a VAR check for offside.
Watkins should have made it four in the 67th minute when he beat Delcroix to a low cross but Trafford again denied him from close range, holding smartly.
Nicolo Zaniolo replaced Diaby to make his Villa debut and almost scored with his first involvement, seeing his shot deflected wide, but the Italy international should have squared for the unmarked Watkins.
Cash, still fancying a hat-trick, shot narrowly wide with 10 minutes left while Zaniolo flashed a powerful effort just over.
Burnley substitute Jay Rodriguez twice threatened Olsen’s goal late on, but there was no way back for the hosts.