Chopra seals Sunderland win
Black Cats secure their first away win of the season
By Laura Slatcher. Last Updated: 22/03/08 6:26pm
Chopra: Winning goal
Michael Chopra was the hero for Sunderland as they recorded their first away victory of the season in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
The result sees Roy Keane's move away from the relegation zone in what was their first victory at Villa Park in over a quarter of a century.
Sunderland's goal came eight minutes before the final whistle when Kieran Richardson's pass picked out substitute Chopra who sent it over Scott Carson for his fourth goal of the season.
Villa were lucky to not have goalkeeper Carson sent off after 23 minutes when he appeared to handle the ball outside the box. Appeals from the Sunderland players were waved away by referee Howard Webb.
The home side's best chance of the game came shortly before the break when Gabriel Agbonlahor did enough to force Craig Gordon into a save.
Villa started promisingly and Agbonlahor found Shaun Maloney in space on the left flank. The former Celtic player cut inside but his left-footed drive was blocked.
Black Cats retaliate
Sunderland retaliated in the swirling wind and Roy O'Donovan spun sharply in the box but his low shot ended up in the side netting.
The home side did most of the early pressing and John Carew was only inches wide with an overhead kick after controlling a ball into his feet from Craig Gardner.
Carson was lucky not to be penalised when he failed to hold onto a lofted cross from Danny Collins when under pressure under from Daryl Murphy.
Replays showed the on-loan goalkeeper was a yard outside the box when he handled the ball but referee Webb waved played on.
Sunderland were opening Villa up with some first-time passing and O'Donovan missed a good chance to put them ahead.
Murphy supplied an inviting left-wing cross and O'Donovan was completely unmarked at the near post but he could not keep his header down.
Sunderland were presented with a good position when Nigel Reo-Coker brought down Dean Whitehead 30 yards out but Andy Reid's curling effort drifted wide.
Maloney had scored a stunning free-kick in the 1-1 draw at the Stadium Of Light earlier in the season but on this occasion he could not keep his shot down.
Then Gordon recovered to block a shot on the turn from Carew after he had failed to initially collect Ashley Young's corner.
Maloney earned himself a rollicking from Villa boss Martin O'Neill early in the second period after he was dispossessed by Carlos Edwards who surged forward but drilled his eventual shot over the bar.
Gardner had an uncomfortable time in the first half at right-back but he produced a fine tackle to halt Murphy on the edge of the Villa area.
Gordon clung onto a low cross-shot from Agbonlahor before Marlon Harewood replaced his former West Ham team-mate Reo-Coker as Villa reverted to a 4-3-3 formation.
Harewood almost made an instant impact when he shrugged off the challenge of Nyron Nosworthy and flicked the ball wide of Gordon - but also past the far post.
Agbonlahor shrugged off his marker to send a dangerous low centre across the Sunderland six-yard box but no-one was able to apply the finishing touch.
But with seven minutes left Chopra sped past Zat Knight and flicked Richardson's long ball past Carson into the net.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|6||Shots off Target||10|
Barclays Premier League
|7||West Ham United||22||36|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||22||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||19|