Ian Bell and Joe Root
England cruised to victory to take a step closer to regaining the Ashes.Getty Images

England kept their nerve to complete an emphatic eight-wicket win over Australia and storm into a 2-1 Ashes series lead after the third Test at Edgbaston.

Set 121 to win the match, England reached the target just before tea on day three with Ian Bell scoring an unbeaten 64 - his second half century of the game on his home ground to complete a remarkable turnaround from losing by 405 runs at Lord's.

Earlier, Australia had been bowled out for 265 with man-of-the-match Steven Finn finishing with career-best Test figures of 6-79, with Peter Nevill (59) and Mitchell Starc (58) providing the only resistance.

Victory puts England on the brink of regaining the Ashes with two Tests to play at Trent Bridge and The Oval, with a win in either game enough to dethrone Australia, though they could be without injured premier bowler James Anderson for both matches.

The tourists meanwhile must regroup after a second harrowing defeat of the series, with increasing concerns over the form of both the wayward Starc and captain Michael Clarke, whose decision to bat on day one and form with the bat will be heavily scrutinised.

Peter Nevill
Nevill's maiden Test match half century gave Australia brief hope.Getty Images

Boosted by the news regarding Anderson's impending absence from the Trent Bridge Test, Australia attempted to restore some pride to a performance which had seen them overwhelmed for two days.

Nevill had survived being dropped by Jos Buttler on day two and after going to his maiden Test half century he had another life as umpire Chris Gaffaney failed to spot the wicket-keeper batsman gloving the ball down the leg side off Stuart Broad.

With no reviews remaining England were denied a critical breakthrough but four overs later Nevill repeated the trick and was given out after edging the ball into the gloves of Buttler as Finn claimed his sixth wicket of the innings, amid match figures of 8-117.

Starc appeared unperturbed by the pressure of the situation though and he pushed Australia's lead beyond 100 while simultaneously going to his fifth half-century.

Steven Finn
Finn finished with career-best figures of 6-79 as Australia were bowled out 265.Getty Images

New man Josh Hazlewood made 11 before slashing hard and being brilliantly caught at the second attempt at third slip by Joe Root from Ben Stokes's first over of the day.

Moeen Ali's introduction into the attack handed Australia the chance to extend their lead but despite being hit for a boundary by Nathan Lyon (12) the tail-ender holed out substitute fielder Josh Poysden.

England faced a tricky chase of 121 to win the third Test but despite surviving the two overs before lunch Australia grabbed a breakthrough when a full swinging delivery from Starc crashed into the top of Alastair Cook's (7) off-stump.

Bell then followed up his renaissance in the first innings with an array of attacking strokes, sending Starc through cover in successive balls as England fought fire with fire.

Adam Lyth
Lyth's troubles continued as he made just 12.Getty Images

The Warwickshire man survived edging to Clarke, as the Aussie skipper spurned the chance diving to his right, and Bell took advantage with two further boundaries off Lyon.

That missed opportunity was accentuated when England lost their second wicket as the dismal start to Adam Lyth's (12) Ashes career continued when Hazlewood thumped the ball into the openers pads.

However, the dismissal saw England batten down the hatches and destroy Australia's resolve as Bell and Root played with caution to edge the hosts towards victory.

Johnson meanwhile continued to be targetted by the Midlands crowd, with a series of partisan chants consigning the run chase to a side-show against the backdrop of the goading of the Australian seamer.

With the tea break looming, England strolled to the crushing victory with Root (38 not out) hitting the winning runs to spark wild scenes of wild celebration on the outfield and in the sun-decked stands.