WATCH: Stunning strike from Ireland's Conor Hourihane helps Aston Villa move into second
Aston Villa 2 Birmingham 0
Aston Villa moved into second place in the Championship following a 2-0 win over local rivals Birmingham City at Villa Park.
Albert Adomah scored his 13th goal of the season on the hour mark and Conor Hourihane netted a second after 81 minutes to enable Villa to chalk up their seventh successive league win, while Birmingham were reduced to 10 men at the death following Cheikh Ndoye's second yellow card.
Villa are now unbeaten in their last 12 encounters with the Blues, while manager Steve Bruce has not been defeated in eight home games against Birmingham since leaving St Andrew's.
Adomah may have turned the game in Villa's favour but the talented Jack Grealish took the individual honours. His danger was reflected by some desperate tackles by Birmingham in an attempt to keep him in check.
A much-improved Birmingham certainly gave a good account of themselves but they have still not scored in their last five visits to Villa Park.
In an emotionally charged atmosphere, in front of a 41,233 crowd, Villa were the more dominant side in the early exchanges with Grealish emerging as their key player with some delightful football skill.
He repeatedly set up promising moves which kept the visitors at full stretch to stay in the game. One move originated by Grealish enabled Alan Hutton to advance before producing a low cross with which Robert Snodgrass failed to make contact.
In a helter-skelter type of encounter it was very much a case of Birmingham defending grimly in the face of increasing odds.
Only the woodwork kept Birmingham in the game when Scott Hogan worked his way along the edge of the penalty area before firing in a shot which hit the top of the crossbar.
Grealish, who stood out like a beacon, became a marked man and had to receive treatment following a heavy tackle by Ndoye - an incident which generated an improvement in Birmingham's attacking play.
Often the away side had a back line of six keeping Villa at bay but it was goalkeeper David Stockdale who came to the fore when Villa's leading marksman Adomah made space for himself to fire in a close-range shot which was nonchalantly saved.
Some grafting work by Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Davis kept Birmingham in contention and just before the break they should have taken the lead with their first strike on goal.
John Terry made a complete mess of attempting to cut out a Jacques Maghoma pass and Sam Gallagher was given a free run to fire in a cross-shot which cannoned back off the far post in what was a massive let-off for Villa.
The Blues were undoubtedly boosted by this goal chance to take the game to the hosts but their adventurous play dramatically back-fired in the 60th minute when the home side took the lead.
Not surprisingly it was Grealish who cleverly set up Adomah following a pass from Hutton to score with a low-raking shot as he cut in from the left.
Nine minutes from time, Hourihane collected a short ball to score with a shot over the head of goalkeeper Stockdale to seal a comfortable and well-earned win.
In the last minute Ndoye was sent off for a second booking.
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