LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) - Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers’ promotion charge was halted as Midlands rivals Aston Villa handed out a 4-1 thrashing at a spirited Villa Park on Saturday.
Albert Adomah put Villa in front after seven minutes after a goalmouth scramble but the lead lasted only 12 minutes as Diogo Jota levelled for Wolves from Matt Doherty’s cross.
James Chester restored Villa’s lead when he prodded in a Robert Snodgrass free kick and Lewis Grabban made it 3-1 five minutes later with another close-range effort.
When Icelandic midfielder Birkir Bjarnason toe-poked a shot past Wolves keeper John Ruddy in the 84th minute, the Villa fans could celebrate a victory that pushes them closer to the automatic promotion places.
They are now four points behind Cardiff City, who beat struggling Birmingham City 3-2 and seven behind Wolves.
Fourth-placed Fulham’s fine run of form continued as they beat Preston North End 2-1 away thanks to a stoppage time winner from Aleksandar Mitrovic. Fulham are now unbeaten in 15 games.
Derby County and Middlesbrough make up the playoff spots in fifth and sixth respectively.
Middlesbrough beat Barnsley 3-1 while Derby, who also have 61 points, face Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Bottom club Sunderland lost 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers and are four points behind fourth-from-bottom Barnsley.
Hull City eased their relegation fears as they hit back from 3-1 down to beat Norwich City 4-3 — Abel Hernandez netting two penalties before Harry Wilson’s winner. (Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Christian Radnedge)