A red card to Fabian Delph early in the second half didn’t help a dreary affair between Aston Villa and Sunderland, as the 10-man Villans held on for a point in a 0-0 draw.
The point pulls Sunderland four points clear of the drop zone, while Aston Villa is a point above the Black Cats.
American keeper Brad Guzan made a number of decent saves that accounted for most of the game’s highlights.
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Sunderland’s Liam Bridcutt lasted just 15 minutes after a scary injury caused by the freaky athleticism of Christian Benteke. The Aston Villa striker leapt for a 50/50 ball and his knee struck Bridcutt’s head.
A non-descript first half gave way to an early second half that was anything but, as Delph picked up a red card to send Villa down to 10 men before the clock struck 50.
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Sunderland worked forward, picking up one of its best chances through in-form Adam Johnson. In the 67th minute, Villa keeper Guzan was forced into several saves after Johnson cut in from the end line to produce an inviting pass just outside the six.
Costel Pantilimon was forced into a quick save off a corner in the 77th minute, as Ron Vlaar’s run drew a near own goal from the Black Cats.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Vlaar, Clark (Okore, 61′), Cissokho, Cleverley (Grealish, 69′), Delph, Sanchez, N’Zogbia (Bacuna, 57′), Weimann, Benteke
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Vergini (Buckley, 78′), Jones, O’Shea, Brown, Bridcutt (Cattermole, 19′), Gomez, Larsson (Giaccherini, 57′), Johnson, Wickham, Fletcher