Owen Coyle's men took a huge step towards Premier League survival after goals from Martin Petrov and David Ngog sealed victory against Alex McCleish's side at Villa Park.
Bolton took a gigantic step towards maintaining its Premier League status with a 2-1 win against a spirited Aston Villa side at Villa Park.
All three goals came in a three-minute span, with Stephen Warnock putting Aston Villa on the board before Martin Petrov answered on a penalty moments later. David Ngog had the winner in the 63rd minute.
Having failed to hit the back of the net since August, Emile Heskey stepped in for the benched Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is believed to be nursing a shoulder injury. Chris Herd was preferred to Barry Bannan in midfield and Andreas Weimann retained his starting position alongside Heskey in attack.
Owen Coyle made one change from the team that drew 1-1 with Swansea City last time out, with David N’Gog starting upfront in place of Kevin Davies. Ryo Miyaichi kept his place in the team after an impressive run of form, with Nigel Reo-Coker playing against his former club.
Villa made an electric start to the match, with Chris Herd heading just over the bar from a 5thminute early corner, followed by Heskey blazing high and wide after a poor Bolton clearance.
But the big English striker soon began to find his feet and provide some spectacular linkup play with young hotshot Weimann, with the 20-year-old unable to reach a Heskey flick-on before Bogdan.
And the England international continued to impress, firing on the turn straight at Bogdan and swivelling on the edge of the box to fire a low powerful shot gratefully into the goalkeeper’s arms.
As Bolton started to work its way into the game with some neat passing play involving Chris Eagles and Mark Davies, standing ovations broke out for Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba following his recovery from a cardiac arrest, and then for Villain Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling acute leukaemia.
But Villa soon found its feet again, with Heskey again at the center of everything, glancing a header narrowly over following neat footwork down the left from Charles N’Zogbia.
And McCleish’s side narrowly missed out on taking the lead, after a cutback from Scotland international Alan Hutton led to Stephen Warnock smashing the crossbar from a full 25-yards out, with Bogdan rooted.
The last action of the first half saw N’Zogbia skin the side netting from a 30-yard free kick, which half the Villa support momentarily thought was in.
The halftime break seemed to invigorate Bolton, which quickly found its feet at the start of the second period, with Kevin Davies looping a header back across goal following an Eagles free kick, and N’Gog was inches away from tapping home.
And former Burnley man Eagles continued to represent Bolton’s greatest creator, as the midfielder attempted an audacious 40-yard free kick, which Given had to do well to save.
Villa continued to look uncomfortable, with Eagles pulling all the strings in midfield and looking to play in N’Zogbia, but the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was equal to it.
Shortly after Villa took the lead against the run of play. N’Zogbia, continuing to impress on either wing, dribbled past his defender down the right and unleashed a low cross towards the on-rushing Warnock, who buried a powerful shot past Bogdan.
Bolton’s response was instant. Carlos Cuellar was adjudged to have brought down Mark Davies in the box and Martin Petrov stepped up to smash the resulting penalty past Shay Given.
And if its goal didn’t come quickly enough, Bolton took the lead straight afterwards. Eagles ghosted into the penalty area, and showed incredible composure to pick out the open N’Gog, who could not miss, and the Frenchman tapped home.
A stunned Villa fought its way back into the game, enjoying some more possession high up the pitch, with Cuellar inexplicably choosing to head the ball goalwards from 15 yards when the Spaniard had the time to pick a volley.
And Bolton started to feel the pressure of a Villa comeback, as N’Zogbia led the charge with some mazy dribbles on each flank, following a succession of dangerous corners.
The Villa supporters erupted when they felt their team should have been awarded a penalty kick, after Weimann played the ball onto a Bolton arm but referee Chris Foy quickly moved to quash any claims.
And the Villa fans anxiety was not rewarded by late Barry Bannan efforts as the final whistle blew to represent a very spirited second-half performance from Coyle’s side. The result leaves Bolton only three points behind Villa, which has played a game more.