Birmingham City slipped deep into relegation trouble Sunday as they suffered a 5-1 defeat to local rivals Aston Villa. ( dpa )
Cast into the bottom three by Bolton Wanderers' victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday, Birmingham's problems were made a whole lot worse as Ashley Young and John Carew helped themselves to two goals apiece.
Young put Villa ahead after 28 minutes, lashing in from the edge of the box from Olof Mellburg's mishit pass.
Then Carew added a second, heading in Young's free-kick just before half-time.
It got worse for Alec McLeish's side eight minutes after the break as Carew notched his 12th of the season after Gareth Barry - supposedly a target for Liverpool - had surged by the former Villa defender Liam Ridgewell.
Young then got his second, weaving through two half-challenges as he cut in from the left before finishing at the second attempt.
Mikael Forssell did pull one back from James McFadden's pass midway through the second half, but Gabriel Agbonlahor capitalized on a weak Ridgewell clearance to restore the four-goal margin.
With three games of the season remaining, the defeat leaves Birmingham a point behind Reading and Bolton, and a further three adrift of Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic.