The Boro side showed three changes from that which started against Preston - Dael Fry, George Saville and Jordan Hugill recalled to replace Mo Besic, Ashley Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga who all dropped to the bench.

Dean Smith made just one change from their impressive 3-1 win away to Forest on Wednesday night, Glen Whelan coming in for Conor Hourihane.

Villa pressed early and with less than a minute played a left-wing cross from Anwar El Ghazi was headed just over by John McGinn.

A stray clearance almost created a chance for a Villa side that had enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening 15 minutes, McGinn’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked and the loose ball cleared.

After a couple of abortive forays into Villa territory, Boro were soon on the back foot and with 28 minutes played we fell behind when Anwar El Ghazi ghosted in unnoticed and with time to pick his spot drilled low and across Darren Randolph.

Not long after, Tony Pulis made a tactical change and withdrew Ryan Shotton, Stewart Downing taking his place and Jonny Howson moved from right to left.  

Villa went for more and Jack Grealish had a shot from the edge of the box deflected just over, but the next chance proved to be a wasted opportunity for Boro to draw level when George Friend hit a low shot straight at Jed Steer.

Back came Villa and Andre Green went close with a shot he might have despatched earlier.

Downing’s introduction had made a difference, a couple of half-chances went begging and it was Villa who rounded off the half by increasing their lead when Grealish threaded a low ball through to John McGinn who capitalised on the advantage played by the referee following a foul when rounding off a strong run into the box with a low finish into the bottom corner.

Just four minutes into the second half another change was made as Lewis Wing made way for Assombalonga who took a position up top with Hugill.

A driving run from El Ghazi took him half the length of the pitch and into the Boro box where he was met with a well-timed challenge from Aden Flint, who soon after effected a similar challenge on Tammy Abraham.

Not long after, Abraham had a shot deflected over the bar and from the loose ball following the corner, Grealish shot into the side netting.

Both sides found it hard to create direct chances in a second half that brought five changes.

Assombalonga headed wide and Villa’s set-pieces were always a source of discomfort, but neither goalkeeper was overworked. That was until the 88th minute when Jonathan Kodjia shot low from the left, Randolph couldn’t hold the effort and Albert Adomah was on hand to tap in the rebound.

Scorer El Ghazi 28, McGinn 44, Adomah 88

Aston Villa: Steer, Elmohamady, Hause, Mings, Taylor, McGinn, Whelan, Grealish (Capt.), Green (Adomah 64), Abraham (Kodjia 72), El Ghazi (Davis 75). Subs: Kalinic (gk), Carroll, Jedinak, Bjarnason.

Boro: Randolph, Shotton (Downing 31), Ayala, Flint, Fry, Howson, Mikel, Wing (Assombalonga 49), Friend (Capt.), Saville, Hugill (Fletcher 62). Subs: Dimi, McNair, Clayton, Besic.

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Yellow cards
Villa None
Boro Mikel 56, foul

Attendance: 36,263 (1,850 Boro)