Aston Villa's resurgence under Steve Bruce continues with victory over Cardiff
Aston Villa continued their recent revival under Steve Bruce with an impressive 3-1 Sky Bet Championship win over Cardiff at Villa Park.
Jonathan Kodjia headed home for his seventh goal of the season to restore Villa's lead six minutes before half-time after Rickie Lambert had cancelled out Albert Adomah's opener.
Cardiff were reduced to 10 men in the 84th minute when Lee Peltier was sent off, and the hosts made sure of the points in the final minute when substitute Rudy Gestede converted a penalty after Jack Grealish had been brought down.
The result stretched Villa's unbeaten run to six games, and meant they remained the only team in the Championship with an unbeaten home record.
Kodjia looked lively from the start, jinking his way into an opening before firing just wide of the far post.
Grealish took a long time to make any real impact against the visitors, who also looked in determined mood after a morale-boosting win over Huddersfield, but the youngster was instrumental in Villa taking the lead in the 24th minute.
He put Jordon Amavi in possession midway in Cardiff's half. The chance appeared to have gone as he hesitated when in position to shoot, but Cardiff failed to close down the defender and he managed to square a low pass across the face of goal for the unmarked Adomah to fire past Ben Amos.
Cardiff, who have not kept a clean sheet since the opening day of the season, were far from discouraged by this setback, though. They immediately hit back with Junior Hoilett setting up the cross which led to Lambert hammering his effort past the helpless Pierluigi Gollini.
With honours again even it continued to be a tense battle. Villa became a little frustrated but that all disappeared when Kodjia, who had previously been closely shackled by Sean Morrison, was on hand to head the home team back into the lead.
Adomah had one shot blocked but, from the rebound, cleverly lobbed the ball back across goal for Kodjia to rise high to head home from close range to demonstrate his danger.
Cardiff then came under increasing pressure but they demonstrated they could be a threat. Hoilett in particular made effective use of the space down the right to provide a good service for the likes of Lambert.
Villa were pegged back in the second period when their former player Peter Whittingham produced some telling passes to put the home defence under strong pressure.
Club skipper Tommy Elphick was drafted in for the injured Nathan Baker at the interval and this enforced change appeared to unsettle the home side as they struggled to gain the kind of control they enjoyed in the first period.
Villa were fully stretched at this point and Morrison went close to an equaliser when his header from a free-kick flashed just over the bar.
The response from Villa was to send on Gabby Agbonlahor, who two minutes later picked up a yellow card for dissent in what was a rare raid on the Cardiff defence when Grealish unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty.
Grealish eventually won his spot-kick after being fouled by Whittingham in the 88th minute, however, and the penalty was converted by Gestede.