MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 07:38:40| >> :120:40536:40536:
Nov 25, 2018 at 12pm UK at Villa Park (Birmingham)
Attendance: 41,200
Aston Villa
BirminghamBirmingham City
Kodjia (37'), Grealish (39'), Abraham (51' pen.), Hutton (76')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Jutkiewicz (28'), Pedersen (57')

Dean Smith sets sights on top two after pulsating derby win over Birmingham

Dean Smith sets sights on top two after pulsating derby win over Birmingham
© Reuters
Villa are four points behind the top six and seven adrift of the automatic promotion spots.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith insisted his side are ready to chase down the top two after a thrilling win over Birmingham.

The boyhood Villa fan masterminded a 4-2 victory in the second city derby on Sunday to lift them to eighth in the Sky Bet Championship.

Alan Hutton's excellent solo goal, where he ran 60 yards and held off four challenges to score just his third Villa goal in seven years, sealed the win.

Jonathan Kodjia and Jack Grealish cancelled out Lukas Jutkiewicz's first-half opener and Tammy Abraham's penalty made it 3-1 just after half time.

Kristian Pedersen pulled a goal back for Blues before Hutton's strike and Villa are now seven points behind the automatic promotion spots after three straight wins.

Smith said: "I always see these games as opportunities and I think the players are now too. We have played some good football at times, look a threat but we just need to tidy up a little.

"Our aim is to get into the top two, that was it at the start and where we are now.

"We've won three games on the spin and this group of players know how to win as they did it enough times last season. We just have to keep that belief going.

"Under Steve (Bruce) Villa were good here, not many teams won here, and hopefully that can continue."

Che Adams hit the post with Birmingham 1-0 up and within four minutes Villa were 2-1 ahead with Smith conceding it was a game-changing moment.

"When Adams hit the post it tuned our players and we moved the ball a lot quicker," he said.

"It was a game I wasn't enjoying for the first 30 minutes because we didn't play well enough but the lads took responsibility.

"It was a fantastic win, we sent a lot of people home happy and I have a lot of family and friends who are Villa fans."

Birmingham remain 12th and have not beaten Villa in any competition since 2010.

They have conceded 10 goals in three games and boss Garry Monk admitted his side need to rediscover their steel.

He said: "In the first 35 minutes we were excellent. We had a chance to make it 2-0 which came off the post but I don't look at it like that.

"It's been the last three games where we have got ourselves into good position but have come away from our little bit of toughness.

"We've been a little bit too easy to score against and we've been heavily punished.

"This is a tough one for us to take. We know how important it is but this group have come a long way."

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