Aston Villa have moved up to fifth in the Championship with a 2-0 win over Preston North End at Deepdale.
Goals from James Chester and Robert Snodgrass helped inflict a third succesive defeat on the hosts who never really looked like doing much.
Villa go close before opening goal
It was almost a dream start for the visitors as Snodgrass saw off his marker only to slice his shot well over the roof of the net, the chance serving as a warning sign for Preston.
Again, Villa could have been in front in quickfire fashion, Albert Adomah charging down the right before cutting back for Keinan Davis, but his effort was well saved by Lilywhites goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.
The goal finally came four minutes later as Snodgrass swung in a corner to which James Chester rose highest to nod past Maxwell, giving Villa a 1-0 lead.
The hosts finally got a grip on the game in the 20th minute as Jordan Hugill just barely headed Josh Earl's cross wide. With Preston missing five regular defenders, Villa were always going to expose the Lilywhites at the back.
Second goal for Villa inevitable, third nearly comes out of halftime
Josh Onomah won possession from Daniel Johnson in the 28th minute and his 20-yarder was inches over Maxwell's goal. The second goal was only a matter of time, and it came five minutes later.
A badly underhit pass from Preston defender Ben Pearson allowed Odomah to burst forward, beautifully squaring the ball to Snodgrass, who slipped his shot past Maxwell to double the visitors' lead.
Almost instantly, it was nearly three as John Terry stooping low to head Snodgrass' free-kick just over from 15 yards, Villa looking comfortable and in control.
Preston finally test the Villa goal
Finally, in the 66th minute, Villains keeper Sam Johnstone was called into action as Preston substitute Paul Gallagher sent a long-range, dipping shot towards goal, Johnstone holding on.
The home side suddenly burst into life as they started to look more threatening, Tom Barkhuizen and Johnson both had efforts blocked inside the Villa penalty area.
Again, the visitors could have made it three as But the visitors should have made it three on 77 minutes as Conor Hourihane slipped Adomah through inside the area but he placed a strike into the side-netting with only Maxwell to beat.
The remainder of the game was a mere procession as Villa took all three points back to Birmingham.
Post-match reaction from both managers
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce: "In the first half in particular, we were excellent.
"With the chances we've created, it could have been more comfortable, but overall it was a really decent performance.
"My two centre-backs and my goalkeeper were immaculate all night."
Preston North End manager Alex Neil: "I've been in football since I was 16 and I've never known as many injuries at any club at one time.
"Both lads tonight are medial ligament injuries and there's nothing you can do about those injuries.
"The disappointing thing is we defended better with a patched up defence in the second half that we did in the first half."