Aston Villa equalled an eight-match winning run dating back to 1975, as they saw off play-off rivals Bristol City 2-1 at Villa Park.
Dean Smith was without Tyrone Mings (suspension) and Jack Grealish (illness), two of Villa’s in-form players. Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan came into the team as Villa’s strength in depth was for all to see.
A Tammy Abraham penalty, and a strike from Conor Hourihane was enough to claim another vital three points.
Despite a late fightback from the Robins, in the form of a Famara Diedhiou effort, Villa deserved their win, but Max O’Leary was in inspired form. Several crucial saves from the 24-year-old frustrated the hosts as they searched for ten goals in their last four outings.
Impressive El Ghazi
As impressive, Anwar El Ghazi had the beating of Jack Hunt throughout. When he stepped inside the full back on the 20th minute, his shot at goal was parried by O’Leary. The ball fell to Albert Adomah who struck the post from six yards, reacting with a header in the area.
Before El Ghazi created more trouble at one end, at the other, former Villian Andi Weimann thought he’d put the away side ahead. Though his celebrations were cut short as his goal was chalked off for offside.
Villa’s winger, El Ghazi crossed towards Hourihane, who inside the six-yard box, failed to convert as O’Leary made his second heroic stop of the half.
The home side did, however, break the deadlock ten minutes into the second period through Abraham, who converted from the spot. After failing to produce in Rotherham three days prior to this one, he casually rolled down the middle to set Villa on their way to their eighth consecutive win.
After Hourihane scuffed his lines on two separate occasions, and with John McGinn coming close, the former scored his seventh of the campaign. Working off El Ghazi’s menacing threat once more, the Irishman collected his pass towards the left side of the box, before firing across goal to end the contest.
Aston Villa will now look to make it nine out of nine, as they travel to Bolton, before hosting Millwall on Easter Monday.