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Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce: 'We have a chance' at automatic promotion

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published: | Last Updated:

Steve Bruce believes Villa are still in with a chance of automatic promotion after they returned to winning ways with an emphatic 3-0 home victory over ten-man Reading.

Steve Bruce

Goals from Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan saw Villa snap a three-game winless run, in a match which saw former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards sent-off for the first time in his career.

The win saw Villa move back to within seven points of second-placed Cardiff, who play Wolves on Friday night, before visiting Villa Park next Tuesday.

Bruce's men, who sit two points behind Fulham in fourth, now visit Norwich on Saturday.

And the boss said: "We have to win on Saturday but the top two play each other.

"There are still going to be many twists and turns. Fulham are there or thereabouts and the way they are performing, you have to say, is quite remarkable.

"But we're still there. With six games to go, we have a chance."

Edwards, who joined the Royals from Wolves last summer, was sent-off after receiving two bookings inside the opening half-an-hour.

Bjarnason then broke the deadlock early in the second half and from then only the margin of victory was in doubt, with visiting keeper Vito Mannone making a number of saves to keep the score down.

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Bruce took encouragement from the performance of his team throughout the 90 minutes.

He said: "Even before they went down to ten men, the way we started, the way we passed it, the way we played, was much more like it.

"There was a freshness about us after the game on Saturday.

"We needed to score. I think we had 74 per cent possession in the first-half, had 30 crosses in their box in the first-half.

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"It was a bit of a procession and a case of when we scored. The longer it goes on, everyone becomes a little bit edgy.

"It takes a wonder goal from Birkir. He probably had his best game for us. I'm pleased for him.

"He's a fierce competitor. As tough as they come."

The only sour note for Villa was the news Alan Hutton faces a couple of weeks out after aggravating a hamstring injury.

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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