The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alex By­wa­ter

AS­TON VILLA man­ager Steve Bruce ad­mit­ted his team had been em­bar­rassed in their drub­bing by Cardiff City.

Nathaniel Men­dez-Laing scored in ei­ther half and Ju­nior Hoi­lett was also on tar­get as Neil Warnock’s Blue­birds moved top of the Cham­pi­onship.

Villa were woe­ful in the Welsh cap­i­tal and lacked a cut­ting edge in at­tack as they went down to a de­served de­feat just a week af­ter their open­ing-day draw with Hull.

Bruce said: “Ev­ery­thing went wrong apart from the first 20 min­utes. We made a bad mis­take for the first goal and af­ter that it was on the verge of em­bar­rass­ing at times. It was a rude awak­en­ing for us.

“We didn’t do the ba­sics well and we looked frag­ile. Over­all, it was a dif­fi­cult af­ter­noon.

“We have to do more. We are As­ton Villa and we come with a big rep­u­ta­tion. But away from home we have to be aware of what’s com­ing.

“There were two de­cent chances at 0-0, but we didn’t take them. It’s one of the big­gest de­feats I’ve had in the Cham­pi­onship, we lost all our shape and bal­ance.”

Villa, who are hot favourites to se­cure pro­mo­tion back to the Premier League, started well and Scott Hogan had two early chances to open the scor­ing, the sec­ond ef­fort was well saved by Neil Etheridge.

With owner Vin­cent Tan a keen ob­server, Warnock’s Cardiff soon moved ahead.

Hoi­lett’s lon­grange shot was held by Sam John­stone, be­fore Ken­neth Zo­hore also worked the Manch­ester United loa­nee.

In the 21st minute, the goal fi­nally ar­rived. Hoi­lett’s invit­ing cross found Men­dez-Laing at the back post, the winger find­ing space be­tween Neil Tay­lor and John Terry to head home.

An en­ter­tain­ing first pe­riod also saw Villa lose Ahmed El­mo­hamady to a fa­cial in­jury which may yet re­quire surgery, Al­bert Adomah step­ping in but fail­ing to help the vis­i­tors from turn­ing around a 1-0 deficit.

In the sec­ond pe­riod, Cardiff stamped their mark on the game as Zo­hore and Birm­ing­ham fan Men­dez-Laing led Terry and Villa on a merry dance.

James Ch­ester saw a de­flected header hit the bar for Villa, but Zo­hore set up Hoi­lett for the sec­ond by es­cap­ing Tay­lor and cross­ing from the right. Men­dezLaing curled home a third to com­plete the scor­ing and send Cardiff City Sta­dium wild.

The Blue­birds have now won all three of their games so far this sea­son and are yet to con­cede a goal in the Cham­pi­onship.

Tan con­firmed he has no in­ten­tion to sell the club to com­plete the per­fect day for Blue­birds sup­port­ers.

Warnock said: “It’s more or less the per­fect re­sult and Vin­cent couldn’t have wished for a bet­ter game to come to. It’s those sorts of games that are why I’m still in foot­ball.

“I was de­lighted with the goals we scored and ev­ery­body played their part in front of a good crowd. I have a good bunch of play­ers here, they’re hon­est and work hard for me. I wouldn’t want to play against the likes of Zo­hore and we saw vin­tage Hoi­lett today.

“For me it’s ex­cit­ing what we have in at­tack, but we haven’t achieved any­thing yet.

“We are still in the early stages of the sea­son and now we have to pre­pare for Sh­effield United on Tues­day.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HIGH CLIMBER: Nathaniel Men­dezLaing scores Cardiff’s first and cel­e­brates, in­set

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