Aston Villa 3 Reading 1

Big John Carew and the hugely talented Ashley Young combined to destroy Reading and lead Aston Villa to their third successive Premier League win.

Young tore the heart out of Reading's feeble defence and it was Carew who provided the finishing touch with two opportunist goals to take his tally to six this season.

Their latest fan, American actor, Tom Hanks, would have been delighted with Villa's latest performance which was highlighted by their clinical finishing.

The feature of Villa's success was again their lethal finishing from set-pieces. Their first two goals from Carew and Martin Laursen were scored from accurate crosses by Young.

It took their tally to 20 from set-pieces this season and they have emerged as the most dangerous team from these sorts of situations.

Carew, who had his best game of the season, grabbed Villa's third in the 88th minute with James Harper replying for Reading a minute later.

But it was hardly the Royals' best preparation for their FA Cup replay with Spurs and they desperately need to shore up their defence.

Only some brilliant saves from Marcus Hahnemann prevented an even heavier defeat.

The outcome might well have been different if Kevin Doyle, who is reported to be on Martin O'Neill's wanted list, could have enhanced his prospects but the Irishman failed dismally with a gilt-edged chance after setting himself up following a long clearance from Hahnemann.

With only Scott Carson to beat, Doyle inexplicably lofted his shot over the bar.

It proved to be an extremely expensive mistake as, a few minutes later, Villa took the lead when Carew headed home a free-kick from Young in the 22nd minute.

Unfortunately the game was often spoilt by the decisions of referee Rennie who appeared to want to impose himself at every opportunity.

The Royals often struggled to get to grips in midfield where Nigel Reo-Coker and Gareth Barry dominated for Villa.

Reading, however, often conspired to be dangerous on the break. They often played with three strikers and Dave Kitson went close to an equaliser four minutes before the break only to shoot just wide.

Ten minutes into the second half Laursen headed in his sixth goal from Young's corner.

It was from a Young run which allowed Gabby Agbonlahor to set up Carew to fire past Hahnemann in the 88th minute.

Villa then made three substitutions only for their disorganised team to allow Harper to snap up a Leroy Lita pass and fire past Carson.