The Black Cats boss saw his shot shy side drew yet another blank against his former club, as Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game to earn a vital three points for Villa
It was a deserved win for the West Midland’s club as it held on to the slender advantage, handed to it by Agbonlahor in the 56th minute. For the home side it was another worrying afternoon as it produced another toothless performance in front of goal.
O’Neill brought Stephane Sessegnon back into the fold at the expense of James McClean, while Phil Bardsley also returned with Danny Rose dropping to the substitutes bench.
Villa boss Paul Lambert surprisingly left former Black Cats frontman Darren Bent out of the Villa squad as he made four changes to the team that drew with Norwich, which included handing a top-flight debut to summer signing Ashley Westwood.
Coming into the game as the two lowest scorers in the division, both sides knew they needed to start finding the net if it was to secure the win that would provide the kickstart its respective seasons desperately required.
And the hosts thought they’d snatched the lead in the fourth minute, but top scorer Steven Fletcher was flagged offside after latching on to Stephane Sessegnon’s lofted through ball.
However, the visitors soon settled into their stride and Christian Benteke set up Gabriel Agbonlahor, but his snap shot was deflected over by a superb Bardsley block.
Weinmann then stung the palms of Simon Mignolet after spinning away from two red and white shirts just before half time, but it was a different story 10 minutes into the second half as Agobonlahor broke the deadlock.
The terrific Benteke leaped to meet a deep cross from the right and his header across goal fell straight to the Villa forward, who made no mistake from close range.
Sunderland responded with vigor and had a penalty appeal turned down in the 64th minute after Johnson’s cross appeared to strike Benteke on the arm in the penalty area.
But again Sunderland was severely lacking invention in the final third with Fletcher and Sessegnon barely offered a whiff of a clear-cut opportunity all afternoon.
And despite some relentless pressure from Sunderland in the dying embers, Villa held on to secure a priceless three points and their first away win since January.
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