Christian Benteke hit a hat-trick as Aston Villa FC strode five points clear of the relegation noose with an eye-catching 6-1 triumph against Sunderland AFC, who finished with ten men at Villa Park.
In a contest that was slow to catch fire, defender Ron Vlaar lit the fuse with a thumping 25-metre drive that swept under visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The hosts' joy was short-lived, however, as left-back Danny Rose combined intuitively with Danny Graham before arrowing the ball left-footed beyond Brad Guzan.
Villa's response was similarly sharp. Effervescent forward Andreas Weimann took receipt of Matthew Lowton's defence-splitting pass on the break and made no mistake with an unerring finish. Sunderland, unbeaten in Paolo Di Canio's first two matches in charge, were helpless to stem the flow after the interval.
Benteke made it three by following up Gabriel Agbonlahor's parried effort and powered in an unstoppable header four minutes later. The insatiable striker then completed his hat-trick – after Stéphane Sessegnon had been sent off – steering in at the back post for his 18th Premier League goal this term. Fellow attacker Agbonlahor completed the formalities, capitalising on David Vaughan's misplaced pass and slotting beyond Mignolet.
Victory for Paul Lambert's team lifted the Birmingham-based club five points clear of the drop zone and third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic FC. Villa joined both Sunderland and Newcastle United FC on 37 points, although Wigan have a game in hand on all three sides. Queens Park Rangers FC and Reading FC have already been relegated.
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|Last updated: 03/05/2013 16:04 CET|
Van Persie 44 (P)
|Man. City||2-1||West Ham|
|1||Manchester United FC||35||85|
|2||Manchester City FC||34||71|
|5||Tottenham Hotspur FC||34||62|
|8||West Bromwich Albion FC||34||48|
|9||Swansea City AFC||34||42|
|10||West Ham United FC||35||42|
|12||Stoke City FC||35||40|
|14||Norwich City FC||35||38|
|16||Aston Villa FC||35||37|
|17||Newcastle United FC||35||37|
|18||Wigan Athletic FC||34||32|
|19||Queens Park Rangers FC||35||25|