Bardsley sends Villa into the dropzone

Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 1

Aston Villa dropped into the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League for the first time in seven years as their former loan signing Phil Bardsley earned Sunderland victory at Villa Park.

Gerard Houllier's side slipped into the relegation zone on goal difference as a result of Wolves' shock victory over champions Chelsea at Molineux.

Villa had striker Emile Heskey sent off for violent conduct before Bardsley's decider and then Black Cats substitute Boudewijn Zenden was given his marching orders for two bookable offences.

A small section of Villa fans chanted "you are going to get sacked in the morning" towards Houllier after Bardsley had broken the deadlock.

But the calls for Houllier to go were more intensified at the final whistle.

The last time Villa were in such a lowly position was in November 2003 during David O'Leary's reign as manager.

But Sunderland's second away win of the campaign keeps them on course for a European spot.

The first chance fell to Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque after Carlos Cuellar failed to make contact with a deep cross from Bardsley.

But Malbranque failed to test Brad Friedel with his header which drifted a couple of yards wide.

Kieran Richardson became the first player to be yellow carded after five minutes when he brought down Villa striker Emile Heskey in full flight.

Villa started to exert some pressure and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon did well to finger-tip away a Stewart Downing free-kick under pressure.

A fine pass from Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov allowed Nigel Reo-Coker a run at goal but he was halted by Malbranque's challenge.

Reo-Coker then played in Ashley Young but his first touch was not the best and Craig Gordon was able to collect.

Bardsley produced a fine tackle inside his own box to deny Heskey after he had made a powerful run.

Ciaran Clark became the first Villa player to be yellow carded after 29 minutes for a reckless challenge on Jordan Henderson.

Clark's mistimed pass then almost proved costly as it was seized upon by David Meyler but Darren Bent was unable to make the most of his pass.

Sunderland were forced into a change after 38 minutes when Meyler pulled up suddenly, slumped to the ground and had to be stretchered off and he was replaced by Zenden.

Heskey, who played under Bruce at Birmingham and Wigan, was guilty of a glaring miss five minutes before half-time.

Downing did well to get to the by-line and shake of Zenden's challenge before sending a low ball across the box.

Heskey seemed certain to score but, from three yards out, he shot against the crossbar.

Sunderland skipper Titus Bramble was booked for holding back Heskey and the Villa striker then headed wide from Young's cross when well placed.

James Collins was booked in injury-time for a challenge on Danny Welbeck.

There was a quiet start to the second period but Malbranque could have broken the deadlock after 50 minutes.

Collins' clearing header lacked conviction and was nodded back down by Bent to Malbranque who volleyed over from eight yards out.

Collins came to the rescue in atoning for his own error three minutes later. He was shaken off the ball by Bent who went around Friedel but Collins recovered to block his shot on the line.

Sunderland were now in the ascendancy and Cuellar diverted a goalbound shot from Malbranque around the post.

But Sunderland were the more threatening and Friedel got his body behind Welbeck's stinging low drive.

Zenden was yellow carded for bringing down the powerful Heskey but Villa were reduced to 10 men after 68 minutes when Heskey was sent off.

Henderson appeared upset Heskey did not put the ball out of play so Asamoah Gyan could have treatment.

He responded by shoving Henderson in the face and was given his marching orders by referee Peter Walton.

With 10 minutes left Bardsley broke the deadlock with a low 25-yard drive after Zenden's free-kick had been blocked.

Welbeck was stretchered off after 83 minutes and replaced by Cristian Riveros.

Zenden was also sent off for a second bookable offence when he fouled Stiliyan Petrov two minutes later.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence