Kodjia double continues Bruce revival
Aston Villa continued their climb up the Sky Bet Championship table under the management of Steve Bruce with a 2-1 home win over struggling Blackburn.
Villa are unbeaten in five games under Bruce and on this occasion they were indebted to two goals from striker Jonathan Kodjia.
Following a goalless first half, Blackburn took a 54th-minute lead through striker Sam Gallagher but two goals, including a penalty equaliser, in 14 minutes from Kodjia enabled Villa to scramble home.
Villa, the only Championship side not beaten at home this season, recalled talented midfielder Jack Grealish following a three-match suspension and he played a leading role in this welcome success.
The youngster figured early on when he engineered several promising Villa attacks but they struggled to break down a Blackburn side happy to defend - a policy which had seen them concede just one goal in their previous four away games.
They were in no small way assisted by Villa's lacklustre strike-force, which again lacked finishing power until midway through the second period.
It was Blackburn who demonstrated their potential threat in the 20th minute when Gallagher forced goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to make a fine save diving to his right to keep out a smart header from Jason Lowe's cross.
That encouraged Blackburn to take the game to Villa and as a result the play became more open, Kodjia responding for Villa with a thundering shot which Jason Steele saved with cool assurance.
Blackburn switched from a defensive mode upon realising Villa's lack of attacking penetration and Ben Marshall pushed forward on a couple of occasions.
Kodjia, criticised by Birmingham manager Gary Rowett for the number of times he went to ground in last week's derby, attracted the wrath of the Blackburn players when he dropped on his face apparently injured only to spring to his feet following the arrival of the referee.
It was his strike partner Ross McCormack who went closest to opening Villa's account just before the break with a close-range angled header from Albert Adomah's cross which was easily saved by Steele.
As if to atone, Villa again produced an attacking flurry but they were again repelled by a compact Blackburn defence.
Blackburn went ahead when the totally unmarked Gallagher headed home a harmless-looking left-wing cross from Charlie Mulgrew in the 54th minute.
It took Villa just three minutes to get back on level terms. Grealish dribbled across the edge of the penalty area only to be brought down by Gordon Greer and Kodjia, to the obvious relief of the Villa fans, made no mistake from the spot.
The Ivory Coast striker then struck his second goal of the game in the 71st minute. Only three minutes previously Gabby Agbonlahor had replaced McCormack and he made an immediate impact, providing the pass to Mile Jedinak who set up Kodjia to drive past Steele for the winning goal.