Sunderland's season reaches new low with abject defeat to Aston Villa

If Sunderland are to survive from here it will be their most surprising escape yet.

Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 8:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th March 2018, 8:50 pm
James Chester scores Aston Villa's second goal

This was an utterly abject performance, Sunderland second best in every department, played out at the end in front of only a handful of punch-drunk supporters.

They could not comprehend what they had seen, a complete inability to execute the basics either on the ball or off it.

By the end Aston Villa played as it if was an exhibition match.

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They had offered little in the first half but were gifted a pair of goals and from there it was a procession. Chris Coleman had called on his team to build on what they had shown in recent games but this was a shameful step in the other direction.

It was a first half of dire quality, neither side offering much in the way of cutting edge or invention.

That Sunderland went into the break two goals down tells you everything about this wretched season.

Both were gifted away, one from a corner with the interval just seconds away. There has been little between the two in the opening stages, even if Aston Villa carved out a promising opportunity when former Black Cats youngster Conor Hourihane played a gorgeous reverse pass on the edge of the area.

Scott Hogan had pulled into space but sliced his effort wide. Hogan went close again on the half-hour mark when he headed a Robert Snodgrass cross onto the roof of the net.

The game had been more notable at this stage for a succession of injuries, with John O'Shea, Ovie Ejaria and Tyias Browning all needing treatment.

O'Shea and Ejaria battled on but Browning could not, replaced by Billy Jones.

Moments later came the crucial moment of the half. Donald Love made a superb covering challenge and launched a long ball forward, misjudged by James Chester. Ashley Fletcher was free but his second touch was dire, running the ball out of play.

Within the blink of an eye Sunderland were behind. Lamine Kone gave the ball away and could not stop Albert Adomah's cross. Jason Steele and the Black Cats defence misjudged the flight of the ball and there, inevitably, was Lewis Grabban at the back post to head home.

It was a similar story for the second, a Snodgrass corner attacked by no Sunderland player, Chester stooping to head home.

Coleman had seen enough, withdrawing John O'Shea and bringing on Joel Asoro.

The Black Cats improved and Callum McManaman drew a fine save from Sam Johnstone when he picked up a loose Aiden McGeady free-kick and fired at the top corner.

That brief revival was quickly extinguished. Sunderland's defence was nowhere to be seen as Hourihane ran in on goal, his sot going straight through Steele and seemingly taking a nick off Bryan Oviedo on its way into the far corner.

Villa puoured forward from there on in, not adding to their score only because of their tendency to overplay in the final third.

Aside from one enterprising Joel Asoro run, Sunderland offered nothing.

The Stadium of Light has never felt this low, dragged down by the sheer incompetence of the team that inhabits it.

Sunderland XI: Steele; Love, Kone, O’Shea (Asoro, 45), Browning (Jones, 29), Oviedo; Cattermole, Ejaria, McGeady, McManaman; Fletcher (Maja, 63)

Unused subs: Camp, Williams, Honeyman, LuaLua

Aston Villa XI: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Taylor; Adomah, Whelan (Jedinak, 60), Hourihane, Snodgrass; Hogan (Grealish, 67), Grabban (Bjarnason, 75)

Subs: Bunn, Lansbury, Onomah, Davis

Bookings: Love, 22 Chester, 35 Oviedo, 55

Attendance: 26,081