Steve Bruce said before this game that he wanted his side to replicate Cardiff City.
And now we know why.
The Bluebirds ran Aston Villa ragged with a dominant all-round performance topped off by three well-taken goals.
In Kenneth Zohore, the Welsh outfit have one of the most dangerous strikers in the division.
And it was his influence that inflicted another away-day battering as the hosts blew Villa away with an outstanding second-half display.
Zohore played a part in the first of Nathanial Mendez-Laing’s double before he set up Junior Hoilett for the second.
Mendez-Laing curled in a stunning third and if it wasn’t for Sam Johnstone who made five impressive saves from the in-form forward line, Villa might well have been suffering an even more embarrassing defeat.
As it turned out it was Villa’s heaviest defeat under Steve Bruce and the most damning since relegation from the Premier League.
There was far too many below-par performances and even the ever-reliable James Chester buckled under relentless pressure from the home side.
Villa actually started on the front foot.
Scott Hogan had two early chances but was wasteful, most notably when he ran through one-on-one and shot straight at Neil Etheridge.
At times, the first half was end-to-end but it was Cardiff who always looked most likely to score.
Zohore and Hoilett gave Alan Hutton an afternoon to forget as they enjoyed joy down the left.
And when Glenn Whelan misplaced a pass and left Villa exposed, Zohore out-paced Hutton and shot at goal but was denied by Johnstone.
A goal was inevitable and it was Hutton who gifted Cardiff the opportunity.
His failed clearance fell to Zohore who shot but Chester blocked.
Villa couldn’t clear, though, and when Hoilett crossed to the back-post, Mendez-Laing was there to out-jump Neil Taylor and plant his header into the bottom corner.
Ahmed Elmohamady had to be withdrawn soon after following a collision with Etheridge.
After the break, Villa tried to hit back.
And after Johnstone saved well from Zohore, Chester rattled the crossbar with a header at the other end that looked to give Villa life.
But it was the star man who continued to wreak havoc on the Villa backline.
Running Chester, and at times, Terry, into the ground, Zohore acted as the focal point up front that proved to be the difference.
When he got round the back early in the second half, Johnstone again had to get down well to save.
He also stopped Mendez-Laing and Hoilett on a number of other occasions and without him in top form this would have been a rout.
It was bad enough, though, as Zohore’s direct run and beating of Chester set up the second.
The Dane charged down the right, leaving the centre-half for dead, and then crossed for Hoilett who had a tap-in from two yards out.
The third was stunning.
Birmingham-born Mendez-Laing cut in from the left and curled in a sublime finish into the top corner and there was to be no way back.
There could have been more but Villa re-grouped and cut out further chances.
Up front they were left lacking, though, and there will need to be serious turnaround to make up for this one.
Villa simply couldn’t deal with the fluid forward line, led superbly by Zohore.
But there’s no legislating for so many individual errors. The defence was all over the place at times and they had little support from the midfield.
Up top Hogan missed a couple of early chances but he, at least, looked lively and willing to give it a go.
Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Bamba, Morrison, Bennett (Richards, 62) Ralls, Damour, Gunnarsson, Hoilett, Mendez-Laing (Ward, 85) Zohore (Kennedy, 89) Subs: Murphy, Manga, Tomlin, Halford,
Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Terry, Chester, Taylor, Elmohamady (Adomah, 28) Whelan, Onomah (Hourihane, 77) Lansbury (O’Hare, 58), Hogan, Agbonlahor. Subs: Steer, Samba, Bree, Bjarnason.
STAR MAN: Johnstone
Villa were backed by almost 5000 fans but it was the home support who enjoyed every minute of it as they maintained their 100 per-cent start to the season.
Villa have to regroup ahead of the trip to Reading on Tuesday. The mood is already turning sour.
Source : BirminghamMail