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3 November 2012
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: M. Jones
• Attendance: 41515
G. Agbonlahor 57'
Sunderland players look deflated as Villa celebrate like it is a cup win.
The final whistle blows and there are boos echoeing around an almost empty Stadium of Light but Villa celebrate their first win of the season.
Frantic end to this match as Bannan clears for Villa as Sunderland pile forward.
Yellow Card Steven Fletcher
The flag was up so it wouldn't have counted. Late drama perhaps?
Great save from Guzan who denies Cattermole's fierce drive. The keeper has hurt his hand though in his heroic moment.
Johnson wins a corner for the hosts. What can he do with it?
Seb Larsson is moved across midfield yet again today to accomadate for Campbell.
Campbell's introduction is Sunderland's last throw of the dice. Will it salvage them a point?
Yellow Card Christian Benteke
CHANCE! What the heck just happened there!? mingolet juggles the ball in the area like a man in the circus and gives the ball to Benteke, whose overhead kick goes wide. Mental.
The Black Cats are desperate to claw their way back into the game. Shall I predict another goal before the end or was that just a lucky guess last time?
CHANCE! Weimann charges clear as Villa counter-attack but his timid shot is comfortably dealt with by Mignolet as Villa push to secure the win.
CHANCE! What a chance for Louis Saha who gets in front of the defender but puts the his header in the stand from close range.
O'Neill is willing his side to pile forward but it is all too late for my prediction of another goal before 70 minutes.
Yellow Card Ciaran Clark
Bannan makes a superb block to deny a Adam Johnson cross as Villa defend like lions
Big, BIG penalty shout for the home side and they are furious that it has been turned down by the ref. Benteke lost his bearings and was in the wrong box when his arms were up but the handball looked accidental from here.
OptaJoe @OptaJoe on twitter: 27 - Gabriel Agbonlahor has now scored against 27 of the 32 different sides that he has faced in the Premier League. Villan.
More bad news for Sunderland as Fletcher goes down with a head injury following a clash with Vlaar. That's going to leave more than a bruise I'm telling you.
Okay, I'm no Mystic Meg, but I predict another goal in the next ten minutes. It's got to happen!
STAT ATTACK: That goal is Agbonlahor's first strike in 29 league games, a run that stretches back to last November.
Lambert pumps his fist on the touchline. Massive goal for Villa.
Assist Christian Benteke
Goal Gabriel Agbonlahor
GOAL! I knew it, didn't I just say there would be a goal in the next five minutes? Agbonlahor puts the visitors in the lead and stabs the ball into the net following a header to his feet from Christian Benteke. The stadium wakes up as does this reporter!
At the other end Vlaar makes a crucial intervention to stop Fletcher from a clean run on goal. What are the chances of a goal in the next five minutes?
CHANCE: 'This is more like it!' Gardner gets his head to a Bardsley delivery from the right but the header is off target.
Deja-vu? Sessengon is at it again minutes later and again dinks a ball to the back post. Sunderland need to get bodies forward to take advantage of these chances.
Sessengon dinks a cross into the box but there are no claret and blue shirts in the area.
Larsson has awoken during the break and looks lively in the early stages of the second half.
STAT ATTACK: Villa have failed to score in the second half of a Premier League game since January.
We are back underway at the Stadium of Light and there are no changesv to either side after the break.
Half-time: The master and the apprentice are at a deadlock as half-time dawns. Both O'Neill and Lambert take their teams down the tunnel as a scrappy first half ends with a murmur from the Black Cats faithful.
As the players begin to make their way out, I, like the rest of the Stadium of Light, will be willing the ball into the back of the net in this half.
If he had been fit, this is just the game that Darren Bent would have thrived on. As it is, he isn't involved and we have a poorer game in his absence.
45' + 3'
Yellow Card Eric Lichaj
Three added minutes before half-time. The break can't come any sooner...
CHANCE: Now Agbonlahor is at it. He is also starting to drop deep and run at the Sunderland defence whilst at the other end Larsson sees his sliced shot snake wide.
Ireland is starting to drop deep as Lambert continues to bark his orders from the touchline.
STAT ATTACK: Despite failing to win the last 17 games, Martin O'Neill has the second highest win percentage for Sunderland in the Premier League era with 31%. Peter Reid holds the highest.
Look like Lambert is getting twitchy in the technical area.
Adam Johnson is causing the home side all sorts of problems but at the other end Sessegnon almost finds Gardner with a diagonal ball but the move breaks down.
Yellow Card Phil Bardsley
That's cynical from Bardsley, who sees yellow for a kick on Agbonlahor. The boy is lucky as he could have seen a card earlier when he ended Bennett's involvement today.
CHANCE! Sunderland breakaway but Lee Cattermole puts the ball over the bar after good work from Johnson to tee him up on the edge of the area.
Despite the home side coming into the game more, their play remains one dimensional as Benteke and Ireland continue to pester the Black Cats defence.
The Black Cats continue to pile on the pressure but the game really is crying out for a goal.
Sunderland win their first corner of the game as they enjoy a spell of possession concluding in Fletcher heading into Guzan's gloves
Sunderland win a free-kick which Adam Johnson swings into the grateful hands of Brad Guzan.
Another Bannan corner from the right is cleared by the home side.
The home fans are getting a little restless as they continue to be pegged back. Agbonlahor sees an effort from inside the area deflected over the bar as Martin O'Neill grow evermore animated in his area.
Handball shout for Villa as Bannan claims that the ball hit a Black Cats hand in the box. The referee points for a corner instead.
Christian Benteke has Villa's best chance so far. The young striker rises highest to a Bannan corner but plants the ball over the bar.
The visitors are forced to make an early change as proceedings remain tight from the start.
'Ouch!' Joe Bennett picks up a nasty knock to his ankle courtesy of Phil Bardsley.
Sunderland come so close to open the scoring as Stephane Sessegnon tees up Steven Fletcher who lifts the ball over Brad Guzan into the net only to be flagged offside. The Scot was a yard or so off but the Villa defence worringly parted like the Red Sea.
Both teams make a frentic start to the match, with a couple of fouls from both sides and the managers are out in the techincal area already.
We're underway at the Stadium of Light
Some further news on Darren Bent's absence. It looks as though he picked up a foot injury in training and has failed to recover in time.
We could be in for the long haul today folks. The two sides have amassed just 13 goals between them in the PL this season. 'Heres hoping that changes today!'
'Well, theres a shocker'. No Darren Bent for the Villains today and by the looks of things, he hasn't even made the journey north to his former side. Boss Paul Lambert does re-introduce Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark, Ashley Westwood and Joe Bennett as four changes to the team who scraped past Swindon in the Capital One Cup in midweek. Sunderland make three changes as Simon Mignolet, Craig Gardner and Sebastian Larsson come back into the starting XI.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett; Westwood, Bannan, Ireland, Weimann; Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Stevens, Lichaj, Bowery
Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, Cuellar, O'Shea, Colback; Cattermole (captain), Gardner; Larsson, Johnson, Sessegnon; Fletcher. Subs: Rose, McClean, Westwood, Kilgallon, Saha, Vaughan, Campbell.
First things first, let's get the team news...
Good afternoon football fans. Welcome to the play-by-play coverage of Sunderland against Aston Villa. My name is Hayden Gribble and I will report on all the major incidents of today's game, which sees Martin O'Neill face his former side. Here hoping for plenty of goals at the Stadium of Light!
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