Scott Hogan was Aston Villa’s match winner with two goals in two minutes to pave the way to a 3-1 Championship home win over Barnsley.
Hogan, who has now scored four goals in his last three games, struggled in the early part of the season but he destroyed Barnsley in the opening 10 minutes to send a strong message to manager Steve Bruce that he does not require another striker.
The Republic of Ireland international was on the mark in the fifth minute when he converted a pass from Robert Snodgrass.
Two minutes later the pair combined again when Hogan headed home a Snodgrass corner to the consternation of the travelling Barnsley fans.
Villa allowed Barnsley to get back into the game with a goal from Dimitri Cavare.
In a pulsating start, which produced four goals in the opening 19 minutes, Villa then regained the initiative when Conor Hourihane notched Villa’s third against his old club.
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom was disappointed with the result and felt his side gave themselves a mountain to climb.
“The writing was on the wall when we went two goals behind in the first half,” Heckingbottom said.
“Besides giving Villa too much respect, the goals we conceded were shocking and we were up against it from the start.”
A confident Villa went into the game looking for their fourth successive league win to boost their promotion prospects which have certainly been enhanced with Hogan’s recent goalscoring exploits.
Barnsley, with only one win in their last 12 games, were looking to improve their lowly position but when Hogan scored twice in quick succession their prospects were not very bright.
The Tykes had only won four of their last 20 away games since beating Villa 3-1 in the corresponding match last February.
But they were behind after just five minutes when Hogan moved smartly on to a Snodgrass pass to slide his shot low into the net past Adam Davies, who could do little to prevent Hogan heading home his second two minutes later from a Snodgrass corner.
Barnsley’s reply was a powerful header from Cavare to convert a Stevie Mallan corner only for Villa to hit back when Hourihane latched onto a Jack Grealish pass to slot home an opportunist goal in the 19th minute.
Hogan should have completed his hat-trick early in the second half when he shot wide of an open goal from close range, while Hourihane wasted a similar opportunity.
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Bjarnason, Snodgrass, Grealish, Hourihane (Whelan 86), Adomah (Onomah 77), Hogan (Davis 90). Subs Not Used: Neil Taylor, Lansbury, Elphick, Bunn.
Barnsley: Davies, Cavare, McCarthy (Hammill 46), Lindsay, Pinnock, Yiadom, Potts (Mottley-Henry 68), Mallan, Moncur, Moore (Thiam 73), Bradshaw.
Subs Not Used: Townsend, Pearson, Brown, Wolfe.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear).