• Premier League Round-up

Villa win thriller as Sunderland move out of drop zone

ESPN staff
January 29, 2014
Leandro Bacuna makes it 2-2 at Villa Park in a pulsating first half © Getty Images

Aston Villa emerged victorious from a frantic Midlands derby against West Brom, while Sunderland clung on against 10-man Stoke City to move out of the drop zone and to within one point of their opponents.

At Villa Park, West Brom took the lead after just four minutes in stunning fashion, as Chris Brunt picked the ball up 35 yards from goal and laced a shot into the top corner. The flying start continued five minutes later as James Morrison's low cross from the left was deflected past his own goalkeeper by Villa's Fabian Delph.

The hosts responded almost immediately by opting for route one, a long clearance being flicked on to Andreas Weimann who crashed the ball into the net from 12 yards. By the 25th minute, they were level. Matthew Lowton provided a low cross that was turned home by Leandro Bacuna six yards out.

Twelve minutes later, a remarkable turnaround was complete, and it was Delph scoring at the correct end this time. Another long ball was flicked on by Christian Benteke to Delph, who beat Steven Reid with a nice turn before drilling the ball high into the net.

Barely had Villa established a lead than they threw it away with more porous defending. Victor Anichebe and Morrison linked up well to set up Youssouf Mulumbu who created space for himself to equalise, and close the half at six goals, three for each side, only the sixth time that had happened in a Premier League first half.

It was 64 minutes before the score was added to as Benteke converted from the penalty spot after he himself was brought down by Diego Lugano. That was enough to seal a dramatic 4-3 victory, putting Villa up to 10th place, with their Midlands rivals just three points above the drop zone.

Sunderland moved out of the bottom three in the Premier League table after a hard-earned victory against Stoke, despite playing most of the second half against 10 men.

After a lively start, it was Sunderland who made the breakthrough as Fabio Borini's shot proved too hot for Asmir Begovic to handle and Adam Johnson was quickest to the rebound to put the hosts ahead. It was Johnson's sixth league goal of the season, twice as many as any other Sunderland player.

Peter Crouch was presented with an opportunity to equalise as Vito Mannone collided with his own defender John O'Shea, but the Italian recovered to make a fine double stop and deny the Stoke striker.

Stoke's task became even more difficult in the second half as Steven Nzonzi was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Jozy Altidore, reducing his side to 10 men. However, the next goalscoring opportunity fell to Stoke and new signing Peter Odemwingie, who nutmegged Wes Brown with a smart turn but hit his shot straight at Mannone.

Odemwingie came even closer with seven minutes remaining, his header crashing off the crossbar and out of play.

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