Aston Villa 2-0 Birmingham City
Aston Villa eased to their seventh straight league win as they climbed to second in the Championship with a deserved derby triumph over Birmingham City.
Albert Adomah put Villa ahead on the hour, steering home his 13th league goal of season from 15 yards. Conor Hourihane’s superb dipping left-foot volley then sealed victory. Cheikh Ndoye’s stoppage-time red card for a second bookable offence further marred Blues’ day.
The Senegal midfielder could have been dismissed earlier but he escaped punishment for a challenge on Jack Grealish, before being booked in the second half when he again brought down the Villa winger.
He was finally sent off after being part of a kerfuffle in the dying seconds.Blues’ best chances came before the break when they hit the post through Sam Gallagher and they were again denied by the woodwork when Marc Roberts’ late header came back off the bar.
But, in a week marred by the loss of his father, Steve Bruce’s Villa were much the better side against his former club and hit the woodwork three times, the best effort from Scott Hogan.For Steve Cotterill’s Blues, who have looked a much improved side of late, it was only their second league defeat in eight games, but they remain just two points clear of trouble.
Villa, by contrast, are now into the automatic promotion places – one point clear of Gary Rowett’s Derby, but 12 behind leaders Wolves – after winning seven-straight league games for the first time since 1990.The first half belonged to Villa, who carved out a succession of good chances.
From a lovely move out of defence orchestrated by a great first time pass by John Terry, Hogan cut in to smack a right-foot volley against the bar.There were three clearing headers by Blues defenders from almost underneath their own bar, and Hogan had a close-range effort blocked after Grealish and Adomah had opened Blues up.
Adomah also cut in to unleash a fierce right-foot shot which was parried by Birmingham keeper David Stockdale, before then firing a low effort just wide.Yet it was Blues who wasted the best chance of the half when Terry slipped after being tricked by Jacques Maghoma’s through ball, allowing Gallagher clear down the right on goal.
But the on-loan Southampton striker’s low right-foot shot came back off the post, then he ballooned the rebound over.Villa’s class finally told when, fed by Grealish, top scorer Adomah cut in from the left to slide a low right-foot shot in off the despairing Stockdale’s right post for his 13th goal of the season.
But the best was still to come as Hourihane chested down a half-clearance before powering forward to score a stunning second.The match ended in an ugly mass confrontation following Ndoye’s altercation with Mile Jedinak, which was followed by further heated words with Terry.
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