Aston Villa got back to their winning ways with a 3-0 home thumping to Paul Clement’s Reading FC. Birkir Bjarnason’s second half strike proved to be the winner.
The good guys in the claret and blue put down one of the more convincing displays all season at Villa Park. Thanks to convincing performances from Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish in the center of the park, Aston Villa ran riot against a David Edwards-less Reading midfield.
The starting lineups:
Steve Bruce trotted out a similar 4-1-4-1 with multiple changes. Alan Hutton re-aggravated his hamstring so Neil Taylor was reintroduced at left back. Additionally, Scott Hogan replaced Lewis Grabban at center forward while Conor Hourihane and Birkir Bjarnason took over in midfield. Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe dropped out of the matchday squad entirely.
Villa XI: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Taylor; Bjarnason, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane, Adomah; Hogan.
For Reading, we saw old friend Leandro Bacuna. Remember when he started the first game back in August?
Near total domination for Aston Villa from the get-go. Reading did not record a single shot-on-target the entire match. Compared to Villa’s 13 attempts at Vito Mannone’s goal, the match was a massacre. Still, it took some time before Steve Bruce could reap the fruits of his squad’s labor. Thanks to a soft 17th-minute yellow card to David Edwards and subsequent double booking just 13 minutes later, their job was about to get a whole lot easier.
Birkir Bjarnason broke the deadlock almost immediately after the break. Some soft work from Jack Grealish outside the box set-up the Iceland international for a sublime strike to the top corner. Conor Hourihane followed suit with a header 15 minutes later. Scott Hogan capped off the final goal with a steal, turn, and finish via Mannone’s misplayed touch.
Aston Villa collect three points. Good for 73 on the season with six matches remaining. Cardiff City sit 7 points clear of the final automatic promotion spot with a game in hand. There is still much to do.
Next up, Norwich City on Saturday. UTV.