Match ends, Aston Villa 3, Reading 0.
Aston Villa 3-0 Reading
Aston Villa kept alive their automatic promotion hopes with three second-half goals to beat 10-man Reading.
Dave Edwards' 30th-minute red card for a second mistimed challenge proved the turning point at Villa Park.
Birkir Bjarnason curled in an early left-foot second-half opener from the edge of the box before Conor Hourihane headed in Robert Snodgrass' cross.
Scott Hogan then pounced on visiting keeper Vito Mannone's attempt to dribble his way out of trouble.
Having started with a win under new boss Paul Clement, Reading's third straight away defeat means they are still five points clear of the relegation zone.
With six games left Villa, who ended an untimely run of just one point in three games, trail second-placed Cardiff City by seven points and third placed Fulham by two.
But Neil Warnock's Bluebirds next two games are at home to leaders Wolves on Friday night and then at Villa Park next Tuesday night.
Villa boss Steve Bruce made five changes following Saturday's 0-0 draw at Hull, bringing back Hogan up front, pairing Hourihane and Bjarnason in midfield and recalling Ahmed Elmohamady and Neil Taylor at full back. And it paid big dividends as three of them found the net.
A succession of other chances went begging too, Mannone partially atoning for his involvement in the hard-working Hogan's goal by denying him on several occasions.
But any serious hopes Reading had really depended on having 11 men on the park - and the game hinged on Wales international midfielder Edwards' red card for fouls on Jack Grealish, then 13 minutes later on Bjarnason.
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce told BBC Sport:
"I made a lot of changes, and there was a freshness about us. Even before the red card, the way we played was more like it. We had 74 per cent possession in the first half and got 30 crosses in.
"It was a bit of a procession and just a matter of when we scored. But the longer that goes on, everybody gets a bit edgy.
"And it takes a wonder goal from Birkir Bjarnason to get us off and running. He probably had his best game for Villa. He was excellent, particularly in the first half.
"With six games to go, we're still in there. We've got to win on Saturday, but the top play each other at the weekend and, as we saw with Cardiff last night, there will still be some twists and turns yet. And the run that Fulham are on right now is quite remarkable."
Reading manager Paul Clement:
"We have played a team that is chasing promotion and we are fighting relegation. At times you could see that gulf in quality.
"We were under pressure for a long time but we forgot to attack. The timing of the first goal so early in the second half was a big blow and ultimately we shot ourselves in the foot.
"In my two other managerial jobs I never had an occasion when I was down to 10 men. Now I've had it twice in my first two games."
- 27El Mohamady
- 7SnodgrassSubstituted forOnomahat 67'minutes
- 10GrealishSubstituted forWhelanat 75'minutes
- 37AdomahSubstituted forKodjiaat 66'minutes
- 14AlukoSubstituted forMartinat 73'minutes
- 8EvansSubstituted forKellyat 65'minutes
- 16EdwardsBooked at 30mins
- 55SmithSubstituted forClementat 45'minutes
- 4van den Berg
- Darren Bond
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 3, Reading 0.
Attempt saved. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Josh Onomah.
Foul by John Terry (Aston Villa).
Chris Martin (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Vito Mannone.
Attempt saved. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jonathan Kodjia.
Attempt missed. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) header from very close range is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Conor Hourihane with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Tyler Blackett.
Offside, Aston Villa. Conor Hourihane tries a through ball, but Ahmed El Mohamady is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonathan Kodjia with a headed pass.
Foul by Josh Onomah (Aston Villa).
Leandro Bacuna (Reading) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Conor Hourihane.
Attempt missed. Scott Hogan (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Conor Hourihane with a cross.
Corner, Reading. Conceded by John Terry.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Glenn Whelan replaces Jack Grealish.
Attempt missed. Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Attempt missed. Josh Onomah (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ahmed El Mohamady with a cross.
Substitution, Reading. Chris Martin replaces Sone Aluko.