Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland
Goals from Albert Adomah and Josh Onomah condemned Chris Coleman to defeat in his first game as Sunderland boss.
Lewis Grabban pulled one back for the Wearsiders, but it was too little too late as Sunderland lost again despite an improved performance.
The Black Cats remain rock bottom whilst the Villains occupy a playoff spot in the Championship.
Sunderland made a promising start at Villa Park forcing an early corner and dominating possession before Villa’s early sucker punch.
The Black Cats lost possession in midfield when Adam Matthews went down after being under a challenge from Chris Samba who swung leg wildly at the Welshman.
Somehow referee, Chris Martin didn’t penalise the ex-Blackburn man and Villa countered with Sunderland lacking defensive cover.
Robert Snodgrass hung an inviting cross up at the back post, and Adomah volleyed in, first time, from close range giving Villa an early goal.
Aiden McGeady had the Mackem’s first chance of note, with Sam Johnstone happy to watch the Republic of Ireland international’s low drive stray just wide.
McGeady had a free hit on goal from 25 yards, after excellent dogged work from George Honeyman to win the ball just outside the home side’s area.
Steve Bruce’s men nearly doubled their lead in the 32nd minute through Snodgrass. The Scottish international saw his attempted through-ball to Keinan Davis ricochet off John O’Shea back to him, through on goal he dragged his shot wide, on his weaker right foot.
The Black Cats began to get sloppy towards the end of the first half, inviting on Villa pressure by giving away possession easily, when trying to build attacks out from the back.
Half time: Aston Villa 1-0 Sunderland
Sunderland were made to pay for a lethargic start to the second half going two down within five minutes of the re-start.
The Villains beat Sunderland to a second ball in midfield and then Onomah let fly from 25 yards.
The ball flew off Tyias Browning who dived in attempting to block, straight past Robin Ruiter dropping into the far corner.
The match settled into the same pattern as the first half midway through the second, with Sunderland dominating the ball, but Villa looking the more threatening.
From nowhere Sunderland pulled one back. Brian Oviedo’s shot from distance was spilled to Aiden McGeady.
The winger’s deft ball was headed down in the six yard box by substitute James Vaughan. Then Grabban once again showed his first rate poaching instincts to hook the ball in from close range.
Sunderland pushed for a late equaliser, but like a majority of the contest, they were toothless in the final third and too easy to defend against.
Villa held on, Sunderland can count themselves unlucky on both goals, and whilst they showed greater quality and intent Coleman will be concerned with his side’s lack of chances and flat end to the first half and start to the second half.
Full Time: Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland
Robin Ruiter, 5/10: Thankfully produced no more howlers, made one crucial interception from Davis in the second half.
Adam Matthews, 6/10: Looks well suited to Coleman’s passing football, highly unfortunate not to get a free-kick in the build up to the first Villa goal.
John O’Shea, 5/10: Still looks a liability. Lacks the pace or strength to be effective at this level.
Tyias Browning, 5/10: Reasonable defensively, but he has to improve in possession to be effective in Coleman’s system.
Brian Oviedo, 6/10: Maddeningly inconsistent, poor at times defensively, inconsistent on the ball as well, should be capable of more.
Darron Gibson, 6/10: Faded after an excellent start to the game, still one of his best showings in a Sunderland shirt.
George Honeyman, 6/10: Worked tirelessly, but lacked the creativity Sunderland were crying out for in the final third.
Lynden Gooch, 6/10: Produced a few moments of great quality in the first half, unable to be a consistent threat though.
Aiden McGeady, 6/10: Probed all game but produced an end product too fleetingly.
Callum McManaman, 5/10: Quiet game. Never really tested Neil Taylor, was disappointingly passive throughout.
Lewis Grabban, 7/10: Looked a threat in behind throughout the first half, continued his excellent goal scoring record too.
(SUB) James Vaughan, 6/10: Came on got an assist and added another dimension to Sunderland’s play.
(SUB) Joel Asoro, 6/10: Provided the directness, pace and energy Sunderland had been lacking on the right flank.
(SUB) Ethan Robson, 5/10: Unable to impact the game in limited minutes.
Man of the Match: Lewis Grabban.