Birmingham: Aston Villa moved closer to avoiding relegation from the Premier League after Christian Benteke scored a second-half hat trick in a 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland on Monday. The Belgian international scored in the 55th, 60th and 72nd minutes at Villa Park to tally 22 league goals and 27 in all competitions in his first season at the club.
More importantly, Villa moved five points clear of Wigan in the final relegation place. Sunderland, Villa and Newcastle are all on 37 points with three matches left. Wigan have 32 points but with four games remaining.
"He's been world class," Villa manager Paul Lambert said of Benteke. "First and foremost, we had to win the game. We were playing against a Sunderland team bang in form. To get the goals we did, it gives us a great impetus to go to Norwich (at the weekend). We have put a lot of teams in the mix, pulled away from Wigan and are playing really well."
First-half strikes from Ron Vlaar and Andreas Weimann plus a late runaway goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor ensured Villa recorded their largest win since 2008. Danny Rose scored for Sunderland to level at 1-1, but the visitors were then over run in midfield and couldn't contain Villa's rampant attacks....more
08:46 AM, Apr 30, 2013