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Tuesday 30 April 2013

Lambert joy as Benteke stoops to conquer

Aston Villa striker hits hat-trick to boost hopes of avoiding drop with 6-1 victory over Sunderland

Christian Benteke climbs highest to head in his second goal

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert called Christian Benteke “world-class” after the striker’s second-half hat-trick helped his team to a 6-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park, moving them five points clear of the relegation zone in the Barclays Premier League.

After Villa went in at the break 2-1 up, Benteke took over, scoring three times in 17 minutes to seal the victory. With 18 goals in the Barclays Premier League Benteke needs only another two goals to become the first Villa player to score more than 20 league goals since 1980/81. Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more league goals than Benteke’s 14 this calendar year.

"He has a big career in front of him and can be anything he wants"
Paul Lambert

“He was world-class,” said Lambert of Benteke. “He is only 22 years of age and only came into this country at 21.

"For his second goal he jumped virtually the height of the crossbar, everyone can see his technique for a big lad is fabulous. He has a big career in front of him and can be anything he wants."

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio saw his side’s upturn in form since he came to the Stadium of Light, winning their past two matches, come to an abrupt end and things worsened as Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for serious foul play and is set to miss the rest of the season. Di Canio has said that the club will appeal against the red card.

Villa took the lead after 30 minutes as captain Ron Vlaar scored his first goal for the club with a 25-yard shot that fizzed into Simon Mignolet’s right corner. The lead lasted less than two minutes as Sunderland left-back Danny Rose equalised after advancing forward and combining with Danny Graham before firing into the far post.

It was not long before Villa were in front again. Matthew Lowton played in Andreas Weimann down the left and he coolly finished past Mignolet.

Villa extended their lead 10 minutes after the break when Gabriel Agbonlahor was given time to fire a left-foot shot that was deflected and Mignolet could only parry to Benteke to stoop to nod in from six yards. The Belgium striker soon got his second, and his 17th in the Barclays Premier League, climbing highest to head in a corner at the far post.

Things got worse for Sunderland who were reduced to 10 men when Sessegnon was sent off for a foul on Yacouba Sylla.

Benteke completed his hat-trick on 72 minutes when inadvertently played in by Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar, beating his compatriot Mignolet at his near post. Agbonlahor completed the rout late on when he picked up a loose pass and rounded Mignolet to finish.

The victory took Villa level on 37 points above Newcastle United, the margin of victory giving them a better goal difference by one, and below tonight’s opponents. Wigan Athletic remain in the final relegation place on 32 points but have played a match fewer.

Di Canio is hoping the "unacceptable" performance by his players will sting them into action to get the three more points he feels is required to guarantee safety.

"Maybe this is a medicine in some way that can let us understand that we have to play with desire, commitment, otherwise we are going to have difficulty," Di Canio said. "This humiliation can help the players, the manager, the staff.

With our Matchday Live service you can follow how the match unfolded, get the best live photos and get the latest in-match stats. At the final whistle we provide match reports including manager reactions. For Matchday Live just click on the link below.

Aston Villa 6-1 Sunderland  |  #AVLSUN  |  Matchday Live >>

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Key Points

  • Aston Villa beat Sunderland 6-1 thanks to a Christian Benteke hat-trick
  • The result sends Villa up a place to 16th, five points clear of the relegation zone
  • Vill manager Paul Lambert calls Benteke "world-class" after his display