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Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa

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Stephane Sessegnon and Joe Bennett

Stephane Sessegnon and Joe Bennett

Paul Lambert led his Aston Villa side to a 1-0 win against Martin O'Neill's Sunderland thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor's strike.

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With both teams struggling badly for form prior to this fixture, Sunderland winning only once in their last 16 games and Villa winning just one league game under their new manager, it was never going to be a classic advert for the Premier League, and so it proved for large parts of the first half.

Steven Fletcher had the ball in the net after a rare moment of quality four minutes after kick-off, but he was rightly ruled offside when connecting with Stephane Sessegnon's pass.

That disallowed goal seemed to serve as a wake-up call to Villa, who started to dominate the midfield battle as the half wore on.

Agbonlahor collected the ball in the box from a corner before blazing the ball over the bar, and Christian Benteke started to become more of a menace up front, causing the likes of Carlos Cuellar all sorts of problems.

With both sides entering the break without finding the back of the net, the fear from the Villa fans seemed to revolve around not making their supremacy count on the score-sheet.

They didn't need to wait long, though, as after the restart before they got the goal their play deserved, Agbonlahor prodding home after a fine header in the box from the lively Benteke, who put in a man of the match performance.

Sunderland were unlucky not to be handed a spot kick after 66 minutes, as Benteke appeared to handle the ball in the area, but the referee waved play on, and minutes later luck seemed to even itself up. Phil Bardsley was lucky to escape a red card after dragging down Agbonlahor as he raced through on goal.

Villa had opportunities to add to their tally and put the game to bed, most notably through a shot from Andreas Weimannm, but they clung on to their narrow lead to record a win of massive significance for Villa fans, players, and their under-pressure new manager.

Posted: 03/11/12 16:47

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