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West Ham United
29 April 2013
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 37428
R. Vlaar 31'
A. Weimann 38'
C. Benteke 55', 60', 72'
G. Agbonlahor 89'
D. Rose 33'
Thats it for tonight folks but be sure to stick with Goal.com for all of the post-match reaction from Villa Park on what has been another extraordinary night of Premier League football.
Sunderland still very much in the dogfight and how they react from this will define the early days of Di Canio's tenure. What is for certain is the honeymoon period is over on Wearside. The inquest begins now. I wouldn't like to be in their dressing room right now. Pray for the teacups.
As good a night as its been for Lambert and his players the teams around them have suffered . Villa's win cuts Wigan five points adrift while Newcastle also drop to 17th on goal differance.
90' + 4'
Full time and its finished 6-1! Been a while since Villa dished out a thrashing on this magnitude but they were irresistible tonight. Sunderland just had no answers.
Four minutes added on to prolong Sunderland's misery.
Goal Gabriel Agbonlahor
And Villa are now in dreamland. Agbonlahor profits from more lacklustre Sunderland defending to pinch the ball from Vaughan and stride unchallenged towards goal before rounding Mignolet and tapping in to an empty net.
Bent turns and tees up Weimann, who goes close to adding a sixth with a powerful drive straight at a grateful Mignolet.
Sunderland just can't seem to get a touch at the moment. Villa have switched to exhibition mode and are just stroking the ball across their backline.
Hat trick hero Benteke is withdrawn to rapturous applause with 11 minutes remaining to be replaced by former Sunderland striker Darren Bent.
Every pass is now being cheered by the Villa fans. This will surely go down as their best performance of the season, especially if it proves to be the one that ensures they're a Premier League club next term.
Yellow Card Phil Bardsley
Villa appeal for a penalty as Benteke and Cuellar contest a corner with replays showing the ball struck the Sunderland man on the hand.
Goal Christian Benteke
And Villa make the man advantage count immediately as Benteke completes his hat trick. The ball fortunately richochets off Cuellar to send the Belgian in on goal and he finishes past Mignolet from a tight angle to make it 5-1
Red Card Stéphane Sessegnon
Sessegnon sent off! The Sunderland man goes in late on Sylla with a studs up challenge that catches the Villa man flush on the ankle with the referee immediately sending him for an early bath. Slightly harsh but that is a red card challenge in the modern day.
Yellow Card Danny Rose
Miraculous goalkeeping in the visitors penalty area as Benteke digs out a cross for Weimann to force Mignolet and Cuellar into two excellent blocks that deny Villa a fifth and the young Austrian a second of the night.
Sunderland just can't match the work ethic and vitality of this young Villa side. Actually, its been a good 10 minutes since the visitors were anywhere near Guzan's goal.
If it stays like this (it should at 4-1!) Villa will record only their second league double of the season. More importantly it will shift them five points above Villa and suck both Newcastle and Sunderland back into the mire.
Assist Ashley Westwood
Goal Christian Benteke
This is turning into a rout by Villa's standards. It's that man Benteke again, who defies gravity to leap above two Sunderland defenders and squeeze Westwood's corner inside the post past Mignolet.
Sunderland go close to reducing the deficit as Johnson's wicked inswinging cross from the right flank beats everyone and drops just a fragment wide of the far post.
Goal Christian Benteke
Massive, massive goal for Villa. Superb work from Agbonlahor to work space for a shot that clips a red and white shirt on the way through to decieve Mignolet as he palms the ball to Benteke, who has the easy task of nodding the ball in from two-yards out.
Home support voicing their ire in the direction of referee Probert as he fails to award a free kick to Villa for Johnson's foul on Bennett but whistles to award a free-kick for a challenge on Rose seconds later.
Lowton felled by N'Diaye and theres a small altercation between the two as the Villa man tries to take a quick free kick that is quickly diffused by the referee.
No surprise to see James McClean warming up for Sunderland. If they're still behind by the hour mark Di Canio may think about introducing the winger.
Sunderland restart and the second half is alive and kicking.
Quality of all three goals has been of the highest order. Sunderland's equaliser, in particular, was akin to the intricately rhythmic Barcelona-esq touch and movement that carved a path for Rose through the home rearguard. Villa's second a flawless was an example of how to ruthlessly punish the opposition on the counter-attack.
Half time at Villa Park and an opportunity for the players and spectators to catch a breath. Its been a whirlwhind first forty-five minutes in the Midlands with goals from Vlaar and Weimann sending Villa in at the break with a lead to defend. Sunderland, meanwhile, have barely threatened but are still very much in the game thanks to Rose's equaliser.
Three minutes of time added on at Villa Park.
Sunderland have the ball in the net but it doesn't count as referee Lee Probert penalises Graham for a barge on Guzan as both contended Larsson's whipped cross from the right, with Gardner sliding in on the follow up and seeing his effort chalked off.
Johnson is again picked out on the right by Sunderland but his decision to cut inside and shoot instead of cross is a poor one as he blasts the ball into row Z.
Sunderland respond well to going behind for a second time and work the ball nicely for N'Diaye to fire a stinging effort that has Guzan sprawling across goal.
Assist Matthew Lowton
Goal Andreas Weimann
VILLA RETAKE THE LEAD! Lowton motors into space down the right and picks out an exquisite crossfield pass for Weimann to control expertly inside the area and slide cooly past Mignolet.
Good response from Villa following the shock equaliser as they press forward in the hope of regaining the lead but Lowton's low show is easily saved by Mignolet.
Yellow Card Carlos Cuéllar
Assist Danny Graham
Goal Danny Rose
Villa's joy turns to despair as Graham beats the offside trap to tee up Rose, who angles the ball past Guzan for his first Sunderland goal. The home side were ahead for less than two minutes.
Goal Ron Vlaar
Another Westwood corner is cleared by Sunderland only this time it drops to Vlaar who slams the ball into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area. Its the Villa captains first goal for the club.
Again its Johnson who Sunderland look for to provide that moment of inspiration but again he fails to deliver, this time clipped the ball is out of Graham's reach.
Bentke and Agbonlahor combine superbly on the edge of the area with a snappy one-two that puts the latter in on goal, but his scuffed shot trickles agonisingly wide of the post.
Villa's final ball has been so poor tonight with Benteke feeding off scraps so far. Could come back to bite them into the end if they don't polish up their deliveries from wide areas.
Bardsley gives the ball away cheaply to Agbonlahor but his attempted cross is routinley caught by Mignolet with Weimann and Benteke ready to pounce.
As ever Villa Park erupts into an applause for captain Stiliyan Petrov as the clock hits the 19th minute. Paolo Di Canio is among those putting their hands together for the Bulgarian.
Huge collision between Lowton and Rose ends with the former staying prone on the turf. Thankfully for Villa he's okay after a quick checkover from the Villa physio.
Sunderland manage to work the ball out to Johnson again on the right but he wastes a good crossing position with an overcooked delivery.
Much of the game is being contested in the middle of the park. Both teams struggling to carve out a telling final ball for their attacking players.
Pendulum swinging back in Villa's direction as they buy a couple of free kicks outwide. The latest comes from O'Shea's push on Agbonlahor but Westwood's delivery from the right is poor. Bennett retrieves the situation with Westwood's second cross flicked away by a Sunderland head.
Villa just happy to keep the ball now after a nervy few moments in which Sunderland threatened to punish some sloppy defending. Unfortunately for the home side Benteke is struggling to get the better of O'Shea at the minute.
From the right flank Johnson clips a wonderful ball into the onrushing Gardner, whose touch takes him round Guzan but sees his effort from a tight angle blocked on the line. Sunderland starting to get on top.
Mignolet stretches to collect Lowton's corner from the right but allows the ball to slip through his fingers. Luckily for the Sunderland keeper Weimann's header doesn't have the purchase required to drop over him and into the net.
As expected jeers ring around Villa Park as Craig Gardner touches the ball for the first night. Anticipate his second, third and fourth touch will be greeted in a similar fashion.
And we're off at Villa Park with the home side getting us underway.
Villa can also boost their hopes of staying up with a success moving them five-points clear of 18th-placed Wigan. They won the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light late last year. Despite the inexperience of his squad Lambert has goals in Christian Benteke. He'll be deciding factor tonight for sure.
The Black Cats have certainly hit form at the right time and much of that has been down to the revitalising effect drummed up by Di Canio's arrival last month. Having failed to win in nine matches prior to the Italian's arrival they could make it nine points from a possible 12 and achieve top-flight safety if they return to Wearside victorious.
Paolo Di Canio, meanwhile, installs Craig Gardner straight back into the starting XI following a two-match ban at the expense of James McClean. Theres also a place for Phil Bardsley, who replaces Jack Colback.
Paul Lambert makes one change to the Villa side obliterated by Manchester United last Monday. Yacouba Sylla is preferred to Charles N'Zogbia in midfield.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose; Larsson, N'Diaye, Gardner, Johnson; Sessegnon; Graham. Subs: Westwood, Kilgallon, Colback, Vaughan, Mangane, McClean, Mandron.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Delph, Sylla; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor. Subs: Given, Bent, N'Zogbia, Holman, Bowery, Bannan, Lichaj.
Lets see how the two teams line up tonight...
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the crunch relegation clash between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park. The Midlands club continue their battle to drag themselves away from the Premier League bottom three, while the Black Cats have the fabled 40-point safety mark in their sights.
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