Goals from Bertrand Traore and Ollie Watkins in the second half earned Aston Villa a 2-0 Premier League win over relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest on Saturday to keep Unai Emery’s side on course for a place in Europe next season and send their opponents into the relegation zone.
Villa’s fourth league win in a row moved them up to sixth in the table as they have now won 11 of 17 games since Unai Emery took charge.
The hosts had battled to gain a foothold in the contest in the first half, with Forest proving competent to their attempts.
Villa came very close to opening the scoring in the first half when Ollie Watkins forced Keylor Navas into a save from close range, but chances were few and far between otherwise.
Bertrand Traore curled past Keylor Navas to break the deadlock after Jonjo Shelvey cleared the ball into his path immediately after the interval.
Watkins clinched the victory in the final minute of extra time, scoring his ninth goal in 11 games after a brilliant one-two with Jacob Ramsey.
While the Lions are flying at the moment, head coach Unai Emery insists his side need to remain “realistic” over their European ambitions. He said: “Another target we have is to go to Europe.
“Other teams are playing well. But it [sixth place] is not real, Brighton have two matches less than us, Liverpool as well and we have to wait. “We have to be realistic and ambitious as well. Our next match is to win.”
Emery has worked miracles since arriving at Villa Park, with these players playing with so much confidence and quality.
The Lions are on track for their best finish since 2009/10 and they play against plenty of the sides in and around them in the table between now and the end of the season.
In this form, they will be a tough proposition for any side in the division.