Aston Villa 4 Bolton Wanderers 2
Gabriel Agbonlahor took his goal tally for the season into double figures as Aston Villa climbed above Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League with this resounding victory.
Agbonlahor netted twice as Martin O'Neill's side took advantage of the Gunners being held at Middlesbrough in the lunch-time kick-off to move a point clear.
Victory extended Villa's unbeaten league run to five games but this was only their second home top flight win since September.
O'Neill's team have had problems breaking down teams in front of their own supporters and there were danger signs when Johan Elmander put the Trotters in front.
But this only seemed to act as a kick up the backside and they dominated the remaining three quarters of the game.
Agbonlahor is revelling in the role as lone striker in the absence of back injury victim John Carew and Bolton struggled to contain the England player.
O'Neill has described Ashley Young as a "world class player" and he gave further evidence of that glowing reference with a mesmeric performance on the left flank.
It will surely be only a matter of time before England head coach Fabio Capello takes notice of his form after overlooking his claims so far this season.
Skipper Martin Laursen was a rock solid performer as Bolton fizzled out after their promising start although Kevin Davies was always competitive.
After 18 minutes Bolton stunned the home fans by going ahead through Elmander's fifth goal of the season. Kevin Davies did well to supply a low cross from near the by-line and Elmander's back heel at the near post was enough to beat Brad Friedel even though he got some of his body to the ball.
Bolton came close to doubling their lead when Gretar Steinsson thumped a fierce header against the crossbar from a corner by ex Villa midfielder Gavin McCann.
Villa retaliated and Curtis Davies was guilty of a glaring miss when he headed wide when completely unmarked at the far post from an inswinging Gareth Barry free-kick.
But the home side were not to be denied and in the 24th minute a superb finish by Agbonlahor brought them back on level terms.
Laursen played a long ball forward from deep in his own half and in one movement Agbonlahor wriggled away from Andy O'Brien and volleyed past Jussi Jaaskelainen from 12 yards out.
O'Brien became the first player to be yellow-carded shortly afterwards after chopping down Agbonlahor on the right flank. Agbonlahor was becoming an increasing threat and forced a low save out of Jaaskelainen away to his left after Ashley Young had picked out his run into the danger area.
But Villa had a let-off when Matthew Taylor blazed over from near the penalty spot with only Friedel to beat after a floated ball into the box from McCann had only been half cleared.
Then five minutes before half-time an own goal from Kevin Davies put Villa ahead. The Bolton striker was under pressure from Laursen when trying to deal with a Barry left-wing cross and only succeeded in heading into his own net.
Villa had strong claims for a penalty rejected when Ashley Young looked to be
caught late by Steinsson. Then replays showed former Villa defender Gary Cahill clearly handling a corner from Barry inside his own six yard box only for referee Lee Probert to decide otherwise.
Villa started the second half on the offensive and Curtis Davies missed a good chance to extend their lead. The former West Brom player got on the end of an Ashley Young corner but his downward header from close range bounced over the crossbar.
Ashley Young was finding an increasing amount of room on the left flank as Villa started to dominate and he set up the third goal for Agbonlahor after 67 minutes.
Young managed to get in his cross despite the attention of two defenders - and Agbonlahor did the rest with a close range header.
Then with 12 minutes left Agbonlahor turned goal provider, setting up Ashley Young whose low shot took a slight deflection off Cahill before flying past Jaaskelainen into the corner of the net.
Kevin Davies headed a late consolation goal for Bolton from a Steinsson cross.
VILLA: Friedel, Cuellar, Laursen, Davies, Luke Young, Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Milner (Reo-Coker 68),
Agbonlahor (Shorey 87), Ashley Young (Harewood 81). Subs Not Used: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Gardner.
Goals: Agbonlahor 25, Davies 40 og, Agbonlahor 67, Ashley Young 78.
BOLTON: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Davies, McCann, Nolan, Muamba (Gardner 53), Taylor,
Elmander (Smolarek 74). Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Riga, Shittu, Basham, Obadeyi.
Booked: Andrew O'Brien.
Goals: Elmander 17, Davies 86.
Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).