LONDON: Scotland international Robert Snodgrass's double inspired Aston Villa to a 5-0 rout of League Cup semi-finalists Bristol City in the Championship on Monday.
Snodgrass' brace -- taking his tally to three goals in the last two matches -- plus a rare goal for Scott Hogan, only his fifth for the club since a £12 million ($16.2 million) move from Brentford a year ago, set Villa on their way.
Further goals from Birkir Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane completed the thrashing as Villa climbed to fifth in the table.
City, whose beat Manchester United in a giant-killing feat in the League Cup quarter-finals, slipped to fourth below Cardiff because of a worse goal difference, even though the latter went down to their fourth successive defeat, losing 2-1 to struggling QPR.
Derby stays second as the league's top two scorers cancelled each other out with Sheffield United coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw.
Matej Vydra may have struggled to make an impression when given a chance in the Premier League but in the second tier, he flourishes as the 25-year-old Czech Republic international showed in converting a penalty for Derby and his 14th goal of the campaign.
However, Leon Clarke -- rewarded with a new contract last week -- went back top of the scorer chart on 15 as he headed a 57th-minute equaliser for the Blades.
United have slipped down the table from second in November to seventh with just one win in their last nine.
"I couldn't have complained if we lost today," Derby manager Gary Rowett told the BBC.
"To take a point and carry on the unbeaten run is good. We were poor at times and we got what we deserved today."
We got zero and deserved zero
Tony Pulis bounced back from defeat in his first match as Middlesbrough manager as his side came back from 2-1 down to beat Preston North End 3-2 -- ending the latter's nine-match unbeaten run.
Daniel Ayala proved 'Boro's matchwinner, scoring the first double of his career, both with his head.
Down at the bottom Bolton's recovery continued as Gary Madine's stunning first-half freekick -- his ninth goal of the season -- gave them a 1-0 win over Hull, who are in danger of successive relegations.
"This is a player (Madine) who is starting to fulfil his potential, and I emphasise starting to because I think there is a lot more to come from him," said Bolton manager Phil Parkinson, whose side have won three of their last four matches.
Sunderland could go down for a second successive season, beginning the year with yet another home defeat -- they won just once at the Stadium of Light last year -- going down 1-0 to Barnsley, who recorded their first win in 11 matches.
The defeat sees Chris Coleman's side slip to second from bottom as Nigel Clough's Burton leap-frogged them with a fine 3-0 win away at Sheffield Wednesday, who are without a manager since sacking Carlos Carvalhal over a week ago.
"It is not a great way to start the New Year. We got zero and deserved zero," Coleman said.