Another clean sheet for Black Cats as they earn three points
Sunderland secured a much needed win at the Stadium of Light this afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. The goal came in the first half as Richard Dunne scored a bizarre own goal after a cross from Steed Malbranque.The home side had an early chance to take the lead as Jordan Henderson dummied Stephen Warnock before floating a lofted cross into the center. Steed Malbranque found himself unmarked but couldn’t find the target with his header, sending it beyond the left-hand post.
Aston Villa broke immediately on the Black Cats and almost had the lead. Ashley Young picked the ball up 30 yards from goal in the middle and played a deft pass in behind Phil Bardsley allowing Stewart Downing to break free in the right-hand side of the penalty area. His shot beat Simon Mignolet, but luckily for the hosts Titus Bramble was able to intervene with a sliding block that cleared the danger.
The next chance came to Villa as they sprang on the counter attack, the Sunderland defense expected an offside flag against Emile Heskey that didn’t come and they were caught napping as Nigel Reo-Coker burst forward from midfield. Heskey slipped it through for the Englishman and he was through on goal. Michael Turner recovered and looked to have bundled Reo-Coker over as he entered the penalty area but referee Mark Halsey was uninterested and waved play on.
Sunderland constructed a lovely passing move in the 20th minute with Elmohamady playing the ball infield to Danny Welbeck before the Englishman slipped it through to Jordan Henderson on the right flank. Henderson got his head up and tossed in a cross towards Darren Bent. The striker went for a diving header but misjudged the bounce and James Collins cleared for Villa.
It wasn’t long before Sunderland had the lead through an inexplicable piece of defending from Dunne. Malbranque did well to engineer space on the right flank down by the corner flag but his cross was mishit and arched towards the front post. Dunne was on hand to clear the danger, but instead of knocking it clear side-footed the ball into the bottom corner at the near post to give Sunderland the lead.
Sunderland were buoyed by the goal and almost had a second within a matter of minutes. Elmohamady dribbled down the right flank before spotting Welbeck running towards the edge of the box. He cut the ball back for Welbeck who went for goal first time, drilling the ball goalwards. Brad Friedel was equal to the strike, getting a firm right hand to the ball and diverting it away from goal.
The hosts looked to extend their lead as half-time approached. Sunderland broke down the left-flank as Bent ran infield and played the ball across to Elmohamady on the opposition wing. The Egyptian took a touch to steady himself before hammering the ball towards the far corner. Friedel looked worried but the shot zipped just wide of the left-hand post.
Elmohamady, having a wonderful game for the Black Cats, drove down the right flank before whipping the ball into the middle. There was nobody there for Sunderland, but they managed to work the ball to Henderson who skipped past a couple of challenges as he ran into the box. He just overran it when it came to the vital moment, and fluffed his shot on goal.
Villa had a good chance to test Mignolet in the opening minutes of the second half, Elmohamady gave away possession in the Villa half and Stephen Ireland came away with the ball for Aston Villa. He exchanged passes with Heskey which released him into space in the Sunderland half. As he reached the edge of the Sunderland penalty area Bramble recovered to block off the midfielder. Ireland tried to cut inside but Bramble stood firm to win back possession for his side.
Sunderland continued to stand up increased pressure from the visitors, with Aston Villa spurning a raft of opportunities to draw level. Young skipped into the left-hand side of the penalty area for a one-on-one with Mignolet, but Onuoha managed to get back and put his body between Young and the ball, allowing his ‘keeper to come and collect.
Then Villa had a great chance to level, the ball was whipped in low from the left and Mignolet dived out to intercept, missing the ball completely. But Villa couldn’t capitalise, with the shot flaring well wide of the left-hand post. Sunderland had plenty of bodies back to cover.
Sunderland also cleared the ball off the line from a Villa corner. Henderson was on hand to hoof the ball clear as Collins rose above the crowd to head towards the right-hand corner.
Villa continued to press forward looking for an equaliser, despite the introduction of Asamoah Gyan for the hosts. Substitute Marc Albrighton stung the palms of Mignolet after bursting down the right flank. He got beyond Phil Bardsley and went for goal with a right-footed shot, but it was straight at Mignolet and the young Belgian made a comfortable save.
Villa had a late penalty claim waved away by Halsey as Downing dribbled past Bardsley into the right-hand side of the area. Bardsley looked to have flung a leg out, but Downing had perhaps overrun the ball and looked to have lost control. The referee was in a great position and took a long look before shaking his head and waving play on.
Sunderland had an opportunity to wrap the three points up in stoppage time as Gyan combined with Bent to send the Englishman bursting through on goal. Only a last ditch tackle from Dunne denied Bent and the Black Cats held out to collect all three points.
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