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Aston Villa 2 Blackburn Rovers 1: Bruce's rampant start continues

Villa continue a hot start under new manager Steve Bruce after dispatching visitors Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Saturday afternoon.

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Villa manager Steve Bruce continues to make quite a start at Villa Park. Another win Saturday afternoon boosted widespread confidence in the new Villa manager, as talk of a run for a playoff spot begins to look a little less unrealistic.

The first half between Villa and Blackburn was dull enough. Goal-scoring opportunities were at a premium, with Pierluigi Gollini's save of Sam Gallagher's header in the 20th minute being the first moment of note in the match. Jonathan Kodjia had Villa's best effort in the first half just 3 minutes later, but his shot was saved by Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Steele. The two teams slowly meandered to half time without a goal. The second half proved to be an entirely different story.

Villa were unchanged at halftime, but emerged from the break clearly on the front foot. Despite Villa's pressure to start the second half, Blackburn Rovers found themselves with the lead 54 minutes in as Sam Gallagher once again directed a header towards goal, but Pierluigi Gollini was unable to replicate his first half heroics and Villa went behind. Villa were only behind momentarily - after Jack Grealish was brought down in the box, Jonathan Kodjia stepped up to the spot and dispatched his penalty despite Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Steele guessing correctly.

Villa maintained pressure as the second half wore on. Ross McCormack was unable to convert from point-blank range but was called offside, and soon exited the pitch to be replaced by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Just moments after Agbonlahor's entrance, Mile Jedinak played a ball to Jonathan Kodjia who sprinted towards goal and poked it beyond Blackburn keeper Jason Steele to give Villa a 2-1 lead in the 70th minute. Kodjia, injured in the process of scoring his second goal, was replaced soon thereafter by Ashley Westwood.

Blackburn started to surge once more after Kodjia's exit, but Tommy Elphick entered for Jack Grealish just before the 90th minute to see off Blackburn. Villa went to a 5-in-the-back formation for stoppage time to survive Blackburn's last assault, a tactic that was successful as the last 5 minutes passed without incident. Today's win marked 11 points won from 15 possible so far for Steve Bruce.