- Premier League
Di Canio fumes at 'humiliation' as Benteke is lauded
Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar refused to believe his side were close to safety despite a 6-1 hammering of Sunderland.
Paul Lambert's men were in scintillating form at Villa Park, with Christian Benteke scoring a hat-trick as they pulled five points clear of third-bottom Wigan.
Newcastle and Sunderland have also been reeled back in as a consequence but, with just three games left, Vlaar is refusing to get carried away ahead of Saturday's game at Norwich.
"We want to win every game," the Dutchman, who opened the scoring, told Sky Sports. "The next game is Saturday and is very important. It's not over yet."
The display of Benteke stole the show, with the 22-year-old Belgian continuing the brilliant form he has shown all season.
"I don't think I have to tell you, we've all seen what he's done," Vlaar added. "He's scored so many goals, you can always give the ball to him, he's so strong."
Vlaar's words were echoed by manager Lambert.
"He's been world class," he said. "For somebody to come to this country - we brought him at 21... The greatest compliment I can give him is that he's a really humble guy who can be anything."
Villa's form now puts them in the driving seat to avoid the drop while their heavy negative goal difference was also boosted by a swing of plus five.
"The most important thing was to win. We started well and got the goal," Lambert added. "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."
The defeat served as a sobering reality check for Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio.
After defeat in his first match at Chelsea, the Italian has been riding high with a stunning derby success at Newcastle and a fine win over Everton.
The tide changed at Villa Park, though, and Di Canio was apologetic, suggesting his players thought survival was already secured.
"It was not a shock but a very bad defeat. Our performance, I am not very happy," he said. "We thought the main job was done. It is obvious if the team perform in this way. The first responsibility is (with) the manager and then the players.
"This is a medicine that can let us understand that we have to play with desire and commitment, otherwise we have a defeat. It is obvious this is a humiliation that can help. It is not acceptable tonight.''
Sunderland were backed by a large number of traveling fans and Di Canio added: "We have to apologise to our club, the fans. They travel and it is not fair.
"Every time we can lose, but not in this manner. Aston Villa, a team with real desire, played like (it was) the last chance of their lives. Maybe we were fooled by two wins in a row and now we have to make sure we get points against Stoke at home."
Sunderland's night was topped off when Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for a challenge on Yacouba Sylla.
Di Canio plans to appeal the decision which, if not overturned, will rule the striker out for the rest of the season.
"We saw the clip. There is not a bad challenge," he said. "With the dynamic of the challenge, it can be a trap for the referee because from distance you see the dynamic, but there is not a nasty challenge. We will appeal of course."