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Derby County made a huge statement with their first win against play-off rivals Aston Villa since 2001 to reinforce their place in the Sky Bet Championship top six.

Andreas Weimann profited after a crucial error from Glenn Whelan to give Gary Rowett’s side the lead, before Johnny Russell sealed a third successive win in stoppage time.

The Rams should have been in front after just 40 seconds when Vydra played David Nugent clean through, but Sam Johnstone came to the rescue for the Villans with a vital stop.

Nugent went for a more extravagant route to goal moments after, with his overhead kick flying over after the away side struggled to clear from a corner.

The striker made it a trio of chances on 15 minutes with Johnstone there again to thwart him, but the on-loan Manchester United ‘keeper was let down badly by his side midway through the half.

Whelan went to play the ball back to his goalkeeper but he found Vydra in acres of space in what would have been an offside position, and the Rams’ top scorer squared it for Weimann who made no mistake against his old club.

The visitors applied some pressure after falling behind but they couldn’t find a route to goal before the break, with Conor Hourihane’s speculative effort comfortably saved by Scott Carson.

Richard Keogh performed heroics to keep Derby in front five minutes after the break, blocking on the line to keep out Robert Snodgrass.

The skipper almost doubled the lead down the other end just after the hour mark as he connected with Joe Ledley’s free-kick, but Johnstone was alert to collect.

The Villa stopper was outstanding all afternoon and he produced another excellent save to keep out Bradley Johnson’s header from another set-piece.

Russell was lively after coming off the bench and it was the Scot who finally beat Johnstone to double the lead in added time after he received a perfect through ball from the marauding Keogh.

Derby County: Carson; Baird, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Weimann (Russell, 57’), Vydra (Thorne, 86’), Johnson; Nugent (Martin, 71’)

Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Pearce, Wisdom, Winnall.

Aston Villa: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Jedinak, Taylor; Snodgrass, Whelan (Hogan, 65’), Hourihane, Adomah; Grealish; Onomah (Agbonlahor, 83’)

Substitutes not used: Steer, De Laet, Hutton, Elphick, Bjarnason.

Major Moment…

The Rams still had work to do when Whelan inexplicably presented the ball to Vydra, and the same pair that combined for the second goal at Barnsley last week did so here.

The Czech forward squared brilliantly for Weimann and after the Austrian went into the game at Oakwell without a goal, he now has two in two.

Who Impressed…

Keogh has been a picture of consistency so far this season and he was outstanding once again, with moments of crucial defensive quality as well as a threat in the opposition box.

His clearance off the line from Snodgrass’s shot just after the break was superb, and he set up the second goal for Russell to put the seal on a brilliant afternoon for the Rams.

What’s Next…

Millwall are the visitors to Pride Park for the last game before Christmas next Saturday (23rd December), before two away trips to see out 2017.

Hull City are the opponents on Boxing Day, before the long journey to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town on the 30th December.

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