Villans beat the Black Cats at the SoL.Sunderland lost 1-0 to Aston Villa as Gabby Agbonlahor scored the only goal of the game for the second consecutive season at the Stadium of Light.
Agbonlahor pounced on Lee Cattermole’s missed control to notch on the quarter-hour and give the Villans their first win in five matches.
Gus Poyet made four changes to the side that battled back to draw 2-2 at Cardiff City the previous weekend as Jozy Altidore, Seb Larsson, Andrea Dossena and Fabio Borini were replaced by Steven Fletcher, Jack Colback, Ondrej Celustka and Ji Dong-Won, making his first start under the Uruguayan head coach.
The Lads started the game brightly, despite the driving rain, dominating possession, and keeping the ball with their first real chance coming through Emanuele Giaccherini who flashed a shot just wide from 25 yards out.
The Italian was then involved again when he picked up the ball and ran at the young Villa defence before playing in Steven Fletcher who shot behind Matthew Lowton on the line and wide of goal.
The only goal of the game then came on 16 minutes as Valentin Roberge’s ball across the pitch to Cattermole was miss-controlled by the midfielder and Agbonlahor ran onto the ball, rounding Vito Mannone on the edge of the box, before slotting into an empty net.
Villa could have doubled their advantage shortly after as Leandro Bacuna ran almost the entire length of the pitch in front of the retreating Cattermole before flashing a shot just wide on the left in front of the South Stand.
The away side continued to grow into the game and Agbonlahor forced a good save from Mannone with a left footed shot from 20 yards out.
Ki then managed to get the Black Cats’ only shot on target when he hit a strike toward Brad Guzan’s near post which was held by the American keeper.
The second half began with Cattermole being replaced by the fit again Borini, who was involved straight away when he headed the ball down for Giaccherini who then hit a neat volley into the back of the net only for the linesman to rule offside.
Before that, Mannone had a scare when a routine Bacuna shot from range took a deflection from Roberge and forced the Italian to scramble back across toward his left hand post and force the ball wide.
Ki then hit another shot but this time it went just wide as the Lads piled the pressure on the visitors without really creating a clear cut opening.
The final few chances of the game fell to Villa, who effectively counter attacked with the majority of Sunderland bodies up the pitch.
Christian Benteke beat Roberge on the left before cutting inside in the box and lifting the ball over the on rushing Mannone. However, Phil Bardsley was there to header the ball off the line as Sunderland eventually cleared the ball.
Substitute Marc Albrighton then had two glorious chances to finish off the game, with both shots coming on the right.
The first was a powerful drive that Mannone did well to palm over but moments later the winger found himself through on goal, only to smash the ball into the North Stand behind the goal.