JOHN KRETLOW - Monday, April 29, 2013
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa crushed Sunderland on Monday and now find themselves five points above the relegation zone with three games left in the season.
The American ‘keeper went the distance for the Villains and recorded one save, while Eric Lichaj dressed but did not feature.
Christian Benteke was the hero on Monday, as the Belgian notched a hat trick in the second half to solidify their massive victory.
The opening goal came in the 31st minute when defensemen Ron Vlaar rocketed a low shot from 30 yards through a myriad of legs to give Villa the lead.
Good combination play however led to Sunderland's equalizer, as Danny Rose found himself in front of Guzan and swept the ball passed him in the 32nd minute.
In the 38th minute Villa recaptured the lead as Andreas Weimann received a long pass in the box and slid the ball into the back of the net.
Benteke then got his first goal of the game as he pounced on a rebound and scored after a heavy shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 88th minute.
In the 59th minute Villa made the score 4-1 as Benteke rose above the Black Cats' defense and powered home a header on a corner.
Things then went from bad to worse in the 70th minute for Sunderland as Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for a rash tackle, leaving them to play with ten men for a large portion of the second half.
It would not take long for Villa to capitalize as Benteke got his third of the game in the 72nd minute when he beat Sunderland ‘keeper Simon Mignolet near post from close range.
Agbonlahor then finished off Villa's goals in the 88th minute when he broke away on a counter attack and found the back of the net to the delight of the Villa fans.
The victory for Villa, their largest since 2008, bolts them five points clear of the bottom three with just three games left.
Guzan and company look to solidify their spot in next season's Premier League with a win over Norwich City next week on the road.