On this weekend of FA Cup shocks, the arrival of the Championship leaders and highest scorers in all four divisions, Bournemouth, to a goal-shy Aston Villa side had been highlighted as another tie with upset potential.
It was not to be.
And therein lay surprise number one: two Villa goals — just the third time this season they have managed such a feat.
Second-half strikes from Carles Gil, making his full debut, and Andreas Weimann, booked the home side’s place in round five.
But an even bigger bombshell dropped before kick-off, when England midfielder Fabian Delph — a free agent in the summer and expected to leave amid interest from Liverpool and Tottenham — announced on the big screen that he had signed a new four-and-a-half year deal.
Delph agreed a new £70,000-a-week (€94,000) contract. All in all, a perfect day for the Villa manager.
“They were two unbelievable goals, the first was world class from a real talent and the second was great timing from Weimann,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure not many people saw the Fabian news coming. It would take millions to replace him and obviously we can’t do it.”
Delph missed the match with an Achilles problem — Villa hope he will be fit to face Arsenal on Sunday. A Villa triumph looked far from certain after the opening 45 minutes though — despite Villa facing a Bournemouth side with eight changes.
Kieran Richardson cleared off the line after Shaun MacDonald latched onto a Harry Arter ball and rounded Shay Given. Given demonstrated that his reflexes remain sharp as he got down to palm away Eunan O’Kane’s strike.
The tension around Villa Park was lifted six minutes after the restart with a moment of sublime brilliance from Gil, signed this month from Valencia. Picking up possession wide on the right, the Spaniard jinked his way inside before bending an inch-perfect arcing shot into the top-left corner.
It was just the second goal Villa have scored in 663 minutes of competitive action.
Villa relaxed and served up some good football.
Leandro Bacuna’s lofted pass set Alan Hutton away down the right and his cutback was crisply converted with a first-time side-foot by Weimann.
Sub Callum Wilson gave the Cherries hope with a 90th-minute strike from Adam Smith’s cross but it was, however, too little, too late.
ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Given 7; Hutton 7, Okore 7, Clark 7, Richardson 7; Bacuna 7 (Grealish 90), Cleverley 6, Sanchez 7; Gil 8 (Westwood 87), Benteke 5, Weimann 7
BOURNEMOUTH (4-2-3-1): Camp 6; Smith 6, Elphick 6, Cook 6, Harte 6 (Francis 60, 5); Arter 6, O’Kane 7; Stanislas 6 (Ritchie 79), MacDonald 7, Fraser 7; Kermorgant 6 (Wilson 60, 6)
Referee: Mike Dean.