Former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina made a stunning return to the Premier League as the veteran shot-stopper helped inspire Aston Villa to a vital 2-1 win over relegation rivals Watford.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JANUARY 21: Pepe Reina of Aston Villa celebrates his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Watford FC at Villa Park on January 21, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Reina, 37, made his long-awaited return to the English top-flight almost seven years since his departure from Merseyside in 2013.

The Spaniard was signed by the Midlands outfit as emergency cover to England international Tom Heaton who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Villa secured their first win in five matches to leapfrog the Hornets and move temporarily out of the relegation zone.

Lifelong Birmingham City fan Troy Deeney returned to Villa Park to rub salt in the wounds following his first-half opener. Douglas Luiz equalised after 68 minutes before Tyrone Mings’ late goal sent Villa Park into raptures in the fifth minute of added time.

Reina made his home debut for his new club and the World Cup-winning goalkeeper made a serious impression on his inaugural bout – including a crucial double save to deny Deeney a second.

The former Bayern Munich shot-stopper is on loan from AC Milan and his return to the Premier League seemed effortless following a faultless display.

A fan favourite at both Liverpool and Napoli, Reina continues to impress wherever he goes. The three-time Premier League Golden Glove winner could prove to be an excellent signing should he help keep Dean Smith’s side in the top-flight.

Following the victory, many supporters took to Twitter to praise the former Liverpool hero following such a bright start for his new club.


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