Ollie Watkins scored his second hat-trick of the season as Aston Villa delivered a ruthless display to thrash high-flying Brighton at Villa Park.
Watkins gave Unai Emery’s side an early lead, finishing coolly into the left corner after Matty Cash had picked out the forward with a low cross.
The 27-year-old went close with a rasping drive that flew inches wide before doubling his personal tally with a low shot inside Jason Steele’s right-hand post.
Sharper to the ball and stronger in the challenge, Villa were all over Brighton and increased their lead just five minutes later when Moussa Diaby’s scuffed shot deflected in off the unfortunate Pervis Estupinan.
Half-time substitute Ansu Fati pulled one back as Brighton improved after the restart, but Watkins’ third of the game – a powerful drive that took a deflection off Adam Webster on its way in – ended the visitors’ hopes of an unlikely comeback.
Watkins, who also scored three against Hibernian in Europa Conference League qualifying, is the first Villa player to net more than one hat-trick in a season since Andy Gray in 1976-77.
Late efforts from Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz were the icing on the cake for Villa, who move level on points with the Seagulls in the Premier League table.