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The Aston Villa manager acclaimed his top goalscorer after he led the Villans to a vital 6-1 victory over Paolo Di Canio's team that pulled them further clear of the bottom three

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert labelled Christian Benteke as "world class" after the striker fired a hat-trick in his side's 6-1 thrashing of fellow relegation battlers Sunderland.

Benteke took his tally for the season to 18 at Villa Park on Monday night as Lambert's team eased their fears of the drop and moved up to 16th place in the Premier League.

"He's been absolutely world class," Lambert told Sky Sports. "For somebody who has just come to this country, he's been absolutely brilliant.

"A great compliment for him is that I've always said he is a real, humble guy and if he keeps that, and keeps his feet on the ground, and keeps working hard, he can be anything.

"I thought for his goal from the corner he jumped the height of the crossbar, which was outstanding!"

Villa moved above Newcastle on goal difference after the Magpies' 6-0 defeat against Liverpool and Lambert hoped the margin of victory would provide a confidence boost ahead of another crucial encounter against Norwich.

"I think first and foremost we had to try and win the game, which we did do, and the goal difference has swung again," the former Canaries manager added.

"We were a few behind before tonight, but to get the goals in the way we did has given us great impetus to go to Norwich on Saturday, and try and win another game."

In addition to rising above Newcastle, Villa are now five points ahead of Wigan - although the Latics have a game in hand - and Lambert hopes to wrap up survival before their final-day visit to the DW Stadium.

"That's the objective," he said. "I wouldn't like to go into the last game to try and stay up.

"We've put a lot of teams in the mix and pulled away from Wigan. We've played really well and that's all you can ask for at this stage of the season. I hope we can keep doing that."

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