Blackburn Rovers 0 Aston Villa 4
The FA must be feeling thoroughly wretched that Martin O'Neill has decided he is not interested in the vacant England post because he once again suggested he has all the credentials with a worthy win over Blackburn Rovers.
It was with the help of two of England's most recent additions — Gareth Barry and goalkeeper Scott Carson — that Villa ultimately cruised to a fourth successive victory over a side that, early in the second half, saw captain Ryan Nelsen dismissed for a foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Once again Villa's performance rarely moved out of second gear but this was a competent win nevertheless and secured a joint top-five place in the Premier League with Chelsea.
O'Neill stuck with his match-winning line-up but Marlon Harewood and Patrik Berger were on the bench for Shaun Maloney and Luke Moore.
Carson discovered his England errors had not yet been forgiven as he was jeered by the home fans but he made a string of world-class saves. The travelling Villa contingent got stuck into Rovers' midfielder David Dunn and substitute Robbie Savage who were their pet hates during their time at Birmingham City.
Carson was forced into the first save of the match from Dunn in the ninth minute, the midfielder having recently returned from a spell on the sidelines through a hamstring injury and suspension.
Seconds later Dunn, almost inspired by the abuse from some visiting fans, knocked a powerful header into the Villa penalty area which Nelsen fired towards goal to force another fine save from England's first-choice keeper.
Carson, who was finding the sort of confidence which initially earned him an international cap, denied Nelsen from a free kick with an acrobatic save after a foul just outside the penalty area.
Villa were, just as at The Riverside at the weekend, slow to settle and in the 20th minute it appeared Rovers had taken the lead after Roque Santa Cruz undid the Villa defence to set up South African Benni McCarthy. His wonder strike from more than 35 yards flew into the back of Carson's net but the linesman had flagged for offside.
Ashley Young won a free kick wide on the right and curled the ball perfectly into the area for giant Norwegian John Carew to give Villa a 29th-minute lead against the run of play.
Villa suddenly came to life, Agbonlahor and Wilfred Bouma taking speculative shots at Brad Friedel's goal, as if the Villa opener had been the catalyst to get O'Neill's men under way.
Carew could have scored a moment later had Aaron Mokoena not intercepted his effort and on 42 minutes Agbonlahor, Villa's top scorer this season, tried to take on the Blackburn keeper who was equal to the task in gathering the ball safely at chest height.
Blackburn came out much more fired up after half-time, Barry turning defender to clear the danger and then McCarthy firing hard and fast from long range only to be denied by Bouma although the Villa left-back appeared to know little about his clearance as the ball ricchoched off his head.
Then it was Villa once more upping the tempo. Agbonlahor appeared to be clear in front of goal but, as he was about to shoot, referee Phil Dowd adjudged Nelsen to have pulled the shirt of the Villa striker and issued him with a straight red card.
Barry, in front of the visiting supporters, coolly slotted the penalty home under the body of the diving Friedel. The Ewood Park fans were still smarting when Dowd ignored pleas for a Villa handball.
In the 83rd minute Young was pushed over by Steven Reid as he advanced on goal. Referee Dowd waved play on, however, and now it was the turn of the visiting fans to vent their anger at the man in the middle.
Excellent play by Villa right back Olof Mellberg dug out Agbonlahor who whipped the ball across the face of goal. The ball was too deep for Carew but Young blasted it home.
Three minutes from time Carew’s shot rebounded off the hapless Friedel to substitute Harewood who slotted home from close range to score Villa's fourth and his 100th career goal.
Scorers: Carew (29), Barry (pen, 52), Young (80), Harewood (89).
BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Friedel; Ooijer, Samba, Neilsen, Emerton; Warnock, Santa Cruz, Mokoena (Reid, 67), Dunn; Bentley (Gamst Pedersen, 81) McCarthy (Roberts,67). Subs: Brown, Savage.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma; Petrov, (Gardner, 78) Reo-Coker, Barry, Young; Agbonlahor (Harewood, 85) Carew. Subs: Taylor, Davies, Berger.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booking: Villa — Mellberg (foul).
Sending-off: Nelsen (professional foul).
Attendance: 20, 776.
Villa man of the match: Stiliyan Petrov — best game in a Villa shirt thus far.