Aston Villa extend unbeaten run against Birmingham with victory in six-goal derby thriller

Aston Villa extend unbeaten run against Birmingham with victory in six-goal derby thriller
Alan Huttons stunner seals Aston Villas derby victory over Birmingham
Read more In Dean Smiths first taste of one of Englands fiercest rivalries as a manager, this was some way to round off what will go down as a famous victory in these parts. A third goal in 186 matches since he moved to Villa from Tottenham in 2011 even had the humorists on social media describing the 33-year-old as Hutton dressed as Lahm in reference to the former Germany captain. But, after Villa battled back from Lukas Jutkiewiczs opener to record a third successive win that lifts them up to eighth spot, Hutton deservedly basked in the glory at the Holte End at the full-time whistle.

For Smith – who used to attend matches here as a child with his father, who worked as a steward at Villa Park – it was also a day to remember as Jonathan Kodjia, Jack Grealish and a Tammy Abraham penalty gave Hutton the platform for his heroics. I went through the rollercoaster a little bit emotionally because we didnt play well today, he said. We were just too ponderous at the start but when we moved the ball quicker, things started to happen. There was a fantastic crowd today and we have sent a lot of people home happy.

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This is not usually a game renowned for its quality and things did not bode well when Grealishs kick-off sailed straight out of play. Rather generously, he was allowed to retake it but, within 30 seconds, was on the receiving end of a clattering foul by Maikel Kieftenbeld – a Dutchman clearly schooled in the meaning of this occasion.

It was to become a recurring theme as Grealish was targeted throughout the opening half, with Villa struggling to find their rhythm against a Birmingham defence initially well marshalled by captain Michael Morrison.

The Second City derby is one of the fiercest fixtures in English football – and the two collide on Sunday lunchtime

Video: Aston Villa 4 Birmingham City 2: Villa fans hail derby day delight once again

Garry Monks side came into the match having conceded three times in both their previous matches to sit just behind their neighbours only on goal difference in the table, although successive wins over Derby and Bolton ensured it was Villa who had the momentum. Jutkiewicz clearly had not read the script, though, as he volleyed home Connor Mahoneys deep corner to score Birminghams first goal at Villa Park since April 2008.

The pocket of away fans in the corner of the Doug Ellis stand erupted and their joy was almost doubled 10 minutes later when Che Adams stretched to meet Craig Gardners cross and diverted it on to the post. Within 60 seconds, Villa were level as Morrison failed to deal with Albert Adomahs ball in from the right and Kodjia fired home from close range. Less than two minutes later, another pinpoint cross from Adomah – this time cutting inside on to his left foot – allowed Grealish to turn the game on its head.

A David Geddis-inspired 3-0 win during the 1980-81 campaign? Forget it. This must have been an even more special day for Smith, a boyhood Villa fan. Thanks to his side, Englands second-city is still claret and blue.

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With the home supporters suddenly finding their voices, it suddenly seemed like a long way back for Birmingham. Their task was made even harder at the start of the second half when Morrison brought down Abraham in the box and the referee, Robert Jones, immediately pointed to the spot, with the Chelsea loanee making no mistake from 12 yards.

Dean Smith will have to revise his list. Before this dramatic, comeback win against Birmingham City, the Aston Villa manager was set on his favourite derby game.

Yet, to their credit, Birmingham refused to give up and found a way back into the game when Kristian Pedersen volleyed home from close range after an excellent cross from Adams.

Aston Villa: Nyland, Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor, Adomah (Bolasie 65), Hourihane, Whelan (Lansbury 69 (Elmohamady 77)), Kodjia, Grealish, Abraham. 

Adomah was forced off the field after an awful challenge from Wes Harding that could easily have led to the defender being shown a red card but it was another full-back the Villa fans were talking about as they left the ground. I watch all the goals, thats my job, said Monk when asked if he will try to avoid any replays of Huttons goal, with no Birmingham player getting close to anything resembling a tackle. Im not worried one bit – my focus is on helping these players and this is another hurdle for us to overcome.

Sundays affair will be Jones first in charge of a Second City derby, and he is yet to officiate a Birmingham fixture. The biggest match he has presided over was QPRs 2-0 win over London rivals Millwall in September – he has never officiated in the Premier League.

As a lifelong Villa fan, Dean Smith knows that victory in a Birmingham derby is something to relish, yet he admitted it was difficult to savour his first as Villa manager, even though it set a record for matches between these fiercest of rivals.

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Villa, who climb to eighth in the Championship, are unbeaten in league matches matches against Birmingham City since March 2005, an unprecedented run for either club of 13 without loss.

Yet they conceded first and could have been two goals behind before rallying to lead at half-time and it was only when his full back, Alan Hutton, came up with a stunning fourth goal 14 minutes from time that Smith was able to feel anywhere near relaxed.

It was a bit of a roller-coaster for me emotionally because I dont think we played very well, Smith said. There is a lot more to our team than what you saw today.

You never need to concede goals but we were ponderous for the first 30 minutes and when Adams hit the post and nearly made it two, it turned our players and they took some responsibility. After that we moved the ball a lot quicker. 

We didnt play well enough but it was a fantastic win, we sent a lot of people home happy. I have a lot of family and friends who are Villa fans and it is nice to celebrate beating your arch rivals.

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The decisive moments of a thrilling match came in the space of three minutes and 29 seconds with Birmingham leading by a 28th-minute goal by Lukas Jutkiewicz, his 10th of the season, from a poorly defended corner.

Stan Collymore reacts to Aston Villa win vs Birmingham on Twitter

Che Adams, on the end of a Craig Gardner cross, should have made it 2-0 to the visitors, a position from which Villa, who had looked the more nervous and who were missing a key element of their game in midfielder John McGinn, might have found it difficult to recover.  

Instead, Adams thundered the ball against the post, play swept back to the other end of the field and, barely a minute later, Villa were level, Jonathan Kodjia sweeping the ball home after Michael Morrisons attempted clearing header from an Albert Adomah cross went straight to him at the edge of the six-yard box.

Two minutes on and Jack Grealish stole in behind the Birmingham defence to head home another Adomah cross for his first derby goal and the game had turned. 

A penalty converted by Tammy Abraham extended Villas lead to 3-1 early in the second half, and although Kristian Petersen took advantage of more sloppy marking to pull one back for the visitors, Hutton killed them off after a solo run that began inside his own half.

Garry Monk, though disappointed that his side had suffered only their fourth defeat of the season in this game after starting level on points in the table, was relatively upbeat.

We need to get back to the toughness we were showing earlier in the season, he said. We have been a little bit too easy to score against lately.

But this group has come a long way from where we were at the start of the season, where we were being written off.

Jack Grealish achieves lifelong dream of scoring against Birmingham as Aston Villa come from behind to win

We have been able to create more goals recently but with that comes the danger of leaving yourself more vulnerable at the back and we need to get the balance right again.


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