Aston Villa 2 Sunderland 1: Chris Coleman's reign starts with defeat at Villa Park
Chris Coleman's Sunderland reign got off to a losing start as his patched-up side were beaten 2-1 at Aston Villa.
The Black Cats remain entrenched in relegation trouble at the foot of the Championship with Sunderland extending their winless run in the league to 16 games.
Albert Adomah scored the opening goal after just 10 minutes, prodding home at the back-post, Sunderland's appeals for a foul on Adam Matthews in the build-up falling on deaf ears.
Sunderland dominated the possession, Steve Bruce's Villa happy to let them have the ball and hit them on the counter attack.
Sunderland failed to create anything of real note first half and within four minutes of the second Villa extended their lead, Joshua Onomah's effort deflecting past Robbin Ruiter.
Sunderland got one back in the 72nd minute to half the deficit.
Bryan Oviedo's shot parried wide, Aiden McGeady picked up the loose ball and crossed towards sub James Vaughan, his knockdown scored by Grabban for his 10th of the season.
Coleman made five changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Millwall, Tyias Browning, Darron Gibson, George Honeyman, Callum McManaman and Lynden Gooch all starting.
Coleman's options had been severely hit with Duncan Watmore suspected to have suffered a recurrence of his cruciate knee injury, with Jonny Williams (shoulder), Marc Wilson (calf), Billy
Jones (knee) and Lamine Kone (knee) all unavailable.
Didier Ndong, who missed Millwall after being given compassionate leave, was also not involved again with Lee Cattermole suspended for the night.
As expected, it meant a make-shift starting line-up with Darron Gibson and Lynden Gooch in central midfield with youngsters Tom Beadling, Joel Asoro and Ethan Robson on the bench.
Sunderland started well, lining up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Darron Gibson sitting in front of the defence.
Lewis Grabban and Lynden Gooch linked up well in the opening stages but Sunderland were soon behind.
Adam Matthews burst through the middle from right back but was dispossessed and lay injured on the turf as Villa broke.
The ball fell to Sunderland summer-target Snodgrass who crossed from the right wing, Albert Adomah with with a simple tap-in at the back post - where Matthews would have been was he
not down injured.
Sunderland's cries for a free-kick fell on deaf ears, Coleman barking in the fourth offical's ear.
Villa were happy for the Black Cats to have possession, Sunderland passing the ball around well but they had to be patient in their build-up.
The home fans frustrated by Villa's display despite leading 1-0, slow and pedestrian build-up from the home side leading to cries from the terraces.
Snodgrass should have put them 2-0 up 32 minutes in, the Scottish forward bundled his way into the area but his low effort was pushed wide by Robbin Ruiter, who then dropped the ball in
from the resulting corner under no pressure.
Villa ramped up the pressure as the game edged towards the half-time break, Adomah sending an overhead effort over the crossbar after McGeady was dispossessed in the build-up.
For all Sunderland's possession they failed to threaten the Villa goal often enough, McGeady's effort wide and Grabban's low effort saved the closest they came.
Within four minutes of the restart Sunderland were 2-0 down.
Joshua Onomah's low effort took a wicked deflection off Browning before looping past Ruiter. The keeper had no chance.
It was comfortable for the hosts, happy to let Sunderland have the lions share of possession before the game sparked into life with 20 minutes to go
Sunderland pulled one back in the 72nd minute, Grabban with his 10th of the season after scoring from James Vaughan's knockdown.
Sunderland were well in the game but couldn't force an equaliser, Coleman's reign starting with a defeat.
Full-time: Aston Villa 2 Sunderland 1Aston Villa (4-4-2): Johnstone; Hutton, Chester, Samba, Taylor; Whelan (Jedinak, 63) Hourihane; Adomah (Elmohamady, 86), Onomah, Snodgrass; Davis.Subs Not Used: Steer, de Laet, Bjarnason, Lansbury, Grealish.Booked:Goals: Adomah (10), Onomah (49)Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Ruiter; Matthews, O’Shea (C), Browning, Oviedo; Gibson (E.Robson, 86), Gooch (Vaughan, 63); Honeyman, McManaman (Asoro, 73), McGeady; Grabban.Subs Not Used: Steele , Love, Galloway, Beadling.Booked:Goals: Grabban (72)Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)Attendance: 27,622