Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce says it would take “an almighty collapse” to stop Wolves winning promotion, despite Villa inflicting the leaders’ biggest Championship defeat of the season.

Third-placed Villa earned a 4-1 victory on Saturday to close the gap on their rivals to seven points, while second-placed Cardiff are just three points behind the pacesetters.

Wolves had been 13 points clear at the summit not so long ago but since beating QPR have lost two and drawn two of their five league fixtures – with Saturday’s loss at Villa Park their heaviest of the season.

Diogo Jota equalised Albert Adomah’s early goal but second-half efforts from James Chester, Lewis Grabban and Birkir Bjarnason sealed a vital three points for Villa.

Coupled with Cardiff’s home win earlier in the day, the defeat left Wolves three points clear at the top.

Perhaps equally importantly, third-placed Villa’s avenging of their 2-0 derby defeat at Molineux in October cut the deficit on Wolves to seven points with 10 games left to play.

Villa boss Bruce said “It will take an almighty collapse for Wolves to lose out with the standard they have set, but it is the Championship and nothing surprises me.”

“We played really well against Wolves who are a very decent team. It was a great game and a great advert for the Championship.”

“To come out in the second half and score three goals was good to see.”

“There are 10 games to go. We have a big home game against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday and this will arguably be more difficult than the Wolves match.”

“I am under no illusions about that fact but we have given ourselves the opportunity to make further progress.”

The top three – Wolves, Cardiff and Villa – all have an extra game to fit in on Tuesday after their matches scheduled for 3 March were postponed because of bad weather.

“Our duty is to try to chase,” Bruce told BBC Sport.

“Cardiff are making a hell of a run, Fulham are on a run and we’re having a go too.”

“Wolves are there to be shot at and there’s all to play for.”

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