Premier League: Aston Villa pick up vital 1-0 away win at bottom club Sunderland
Last Updated: 01/01/14 7:07pm
Aston Villa ended a five-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory at Sunderland to heap more misery on the bottom club.
Gabriel Agbonlahor's early goal was enough to win the match for the visitors and leave Gus Poyet's side now three points from safety at the foot of the Premier League.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the goal that won it and was a constant threat.
- Moment of the match: Emanuele Giaccherini's disallowed goal was a marginal call.
- Save of the match: Vito Mannone dealt well with a deflected effort from Marc Albrighton.
- Talking point: Is there any way back for Sunderland now?
Sunderland had dominated the opening stages, creating several half-chances only to see their positive start undone after 15 minutes by a calamitous error from Lee Cattermole.
The Black Cats skipper dropped deep to collect a pass but miscontrolled, allowing Agbonlahor to nip in, skip by Vito Mannone and stroke the ball into the empty net with his left foot.
Steven Fletcher and Ji Dong-Won had already spurned decent opportunities by that point and Jack Colback saw a shot blocked minutes after the opener to deny Sunderland an instant reply.
Although the home side dominated possession, Villa defended well with Ron Vlaar to the fore and were content to play on the break with Agbonlahor and the returning Christian Benteke often a counter-attacking threat.
The pattern continued after the interval as Sunderland pushed for the equaliser with Cattermole making way for Fabio Borini at half time.
Emanuele Giaccherini even had the ball in the net midway through the second half thanks to a left-footed effort only to fall victim to a marginal offside call.
But Villa remained a threat as Sunderland committed men forwards. Phil Bardsley headed off the line with a quarter of an hour remaining after Benteke had outfoxed Valentin Roberge down the left channel.
Poyet threw on Jozy Altidore in a desperate attempt to claw something from the contest but the best chances continued to come at the other end.
Mannone saved well from Marc Albrighton inside the final 10 minutes but the Villa substitute really should have sealed the win late on only to blaze the ball over when clean through.
Albrighton was on the pitch as part of the reshuffle required when Vlaar went off with a calf injury but Villa defended resiliently to the death.
And besides, while Poyet's team huffed and puffed there was little quality to their play. They remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League - easing the drop fears for Paul Lambert's side in the process.
Barclays Premier League
Wed 1st Jan
Swansea2 - 3Man City
Arsenal2 - 0Cardiff
C Palace1 - 1Norwich
Fulham2 - 1West Ham
Liverpool2 - 0Hull City
So'ton0 - 3Chelsea
Stoke1 - 1Everton
S'land0 - 1A Villa
W Brom1 - 0Newcastle
Man Utd1 - 2Tottenham
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||8||13|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||7||8|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||4|
Sunderland v Aston Villa
Aston Villa's players have insisted that misfiring striker Christian Benteke is still contributing to the cause.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has told his players that they all need to pull in the same direction.
Gus Poyet bemoaned his Sunderland team's mistakes and the nerves of the crowd following their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa.