2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Birkir Bjarnason (46')
  • Conor Hourihane (63')
  • Scott Hogan (70')
  • David Edwards (30')

Aston Villa return to form with three-goal cruise against Reading

Aston Villa bounced back to winning form with an easy 3-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Reading to boost their promotion play-off hopes.
Steve Bruce's side outplayed struggling Reading for almost the entire game and the Royals, who played with 10 men for the last hour, succumbed to second-half goals from Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan.
Reading had defeated Villa in their last two encounters but there were few opportunities to repeat their success as they slumped to their ninth defeat in 10 away games and now find themselves deeply involved in a relegation battle.
They were completely dominated by a Villa side who eventually recorded their most comfortable win of the season.
A late bonus for Villa saw Jonathan Kodjia, their main marksman last season, made his first home appearance since last October as a second-half substitute to give the club an added boost in the run-in to the end of the season. He has been absent with an ankle injury.
With only one point from their previous three games, Villa's uncertainty was evident in the early skirmishes.
Although Jack Grealish had an early chance in the fourth minute with a volley which went over the bar, Villa lacked initial conviction against a Reading side who began with five players across the back.
Sterling defensive play enabled the Royals to stay in the game, helped by some indifferent finishing which was highlighted on one occasion midway through the first half when Neil Taylor made a hash of a left-footed shot.
Reading's hopes effectively disappeared on the half-hour when David Edwards collected a second yellow card and an early departure from the game.
Two minutes later only a smart save by Vito Mannone kept out a Hogan header and in the next raid he blocked an effort on the goal-line from the same Villa player.
The over-worked Mannone then casually held a long-range Grealish shot.
The goalkeeper was helpless a minute into the second half though when Villa broke the stalemate.
Grealish set up Robert Snodgrass, who jinked his way into space before slipping a low pass into the path of Bjarnson to score with a swerving shot to the right of Mannone.
The second goal arrived in the 62nd minute when Hourihane was on hand to head home a short cross from Snodgrass.
Villa's third goal came when Mannone was stranded yards out of his goal and Hogan took full advantage to score with a low raking shot in the 70th minute.

English League Championship Standings

1 West Bromwich Albion 11 +8 22
2 Nottingham Forest 11 +7 22
3 Preston North End 11 +11 21
4 Swansea City 11 +7 21
5 Leeds United 11 +8 20
6 Bristol City 11 +5 20
7 Fulham 11 +10 19
8 Sheffield Wednesday 11 +7 19
9 Queens Park Rangers 11 -1 19
10 Charlton Athletic 11 +3 18
11 Cardiff City 11 0 16
12 Birmingham City 11 -3 16
13 Derby County 11 0 15
14 Blackburn Rovers 11 -2 14
15 Millwall 11 -4 14
16 Hull City 11 -2 13
17 Brentford 11 0 12
18 Luton Town 11 -5 11
19 Wigan Athletic 11 -7 11
20 Middlesbrough 11 -5 10
21 Huddersfield Town 11 -6 8
22 Reading 11 -6 8
23 Barnsley 11 -14 6
24 Stoke City 11 -11 5