For match photos, scroll to Photostream above left; for match stats, click on the statistics tab. Manager reaction below
Aston Villa recovered from a Nathan Baker own goal to haul themselves out of the relegation places with victory at fellow strugglers Reading. The home side were gifted the lead on the half-hour when Baker made a hash of a clearance but it was not decisive.
Villa were level a minute later when Christian Benteke fired in before Gabriel Agbonlahor grabbed the winner in first-half injury time. Victory was just Villa's second in their past 12 league games and moved them three points clear of danger in the Barclays Premier League.
Reading's defeat - their second in succession at home against a relegation rival after they lost 3-0 to Wigan a fortnight ago - left them above last-placed Queens Park Rangers on goals scored only.
Villa manager Paul Lambert handed January signing Yacouba Sylla his first league start since his move from French second-tier side Clermont as he made three changes. Captain Ron Vlaar and Barry Bannan also returned. Reading made one enforced change with Hal Robson-Kanu coming in for the injured Jimmy Kebe.
During the week Reading manager Brian McDermott called for his side to make a fast start and they threatened twice inside the first five minutes. Adam Le Fondre forced Brad Guzan to claw a header away after he peeled off his marker at the back post before delivering a cross that an unmarked Robson-Kanu miscontrolled.
Villa full-back Matthew Lowton was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Jobi McAnuff, but for all Reading's early promise they almost fell behind on 12 minutes when Benteke rattled the crossbar with a header.
It was an entertaining start when caution might have been expected given the game's relevance to the relegation fight. Reading's opener on 31 minutes came when there appeared little danger. Despite Hope Akpan helping McAnuff's low cross on, Baker, close to his line, rushed his clearance and kicked the ball against his standing leg and over the line.
Reading's lead lasted barely two minutes. Andreas Weimann was given space down the right and his cut-back to Benteke was guided in with a shot that took a deflection off Stephen Kelly to ensure Stuart Taylor in the Reading goal was beaten.
It got worse for the Royals, however, as they conceded in first-half injury time for the second successive game at home. Kelly failed to clear properly following a patient build-up by Villa. Lowton headed the ball across the six-yard box and while Bannan's deft touch rebounded off a post Taylor could only help the loose ball to Agbonlahor to thump home.
Reading thought they were level 10 minutes after the re-start only for an offside call to go against them. Noel Hunt poked home at close range but if he was marginally offside.
McDermott then made a double substitution, bringing on Garath McCleary and Nick Blackman for Hunt and Akpan. Blackman almost immediately levelled only to fire wide after first controlling with his chest.
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "We're hurting. We are very much hurting at this moment in time. It was disappointing today to say the least. It was rough. When we got 1-0 up I thought we were ready to kick on. We didn't do that and that's cost us.
"We were disappointed with both goals. We've got ourselves into the lead and they've scored virtually straight after. We have to hold our hands up. We need to be better and see the game out. I know that and the players know that."
"I'd take that: if somebody said to me it was going to go down to the last game of the season when we play West Ham. We were written off in August - you never know. If we can get on a run and get back-to-back wins - QPR have just proven that gets you back in the mix."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "It was a huge victory. We were outstanding. We went a goal down. We had chances at the start of the first half and then to lose a goal - an own-goal - was a blow but I have to give the lads credit for the way they bounced back. Some of the football we played was absolutely fantastic. The second goal was a brilliant move and a terrific finish.
“The lads deserve so much credit. I am proud of them. They were fantastic today. We thoroughly deserved to win the game and could have done by a few more. The confidence has always been there. The last few months we have been playing really well.
"There have been games where we've been two goals in front and not managed to see it through. If we hadn't done that, we wouldn't be sitting in this position. Look at the table now and there's not a lot of daylight between teams, it's very, very close. There will be a few teams looking over their shoulder.”
|06 Apr 2013||v Southampton (H)|
|16 Mar 2013||v Man Utd (A)|
|13 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|14 May 2013||v Man City (H)|
|28 Apr 2013||v QPR (H)|
|19 May 2013||v West Ham (A)|