Sunderland 0 Aston Villa 1 match report: 'Poor referee is to blame' claims Gus Poyet after worrying defeat

Agbonlahor scored the only goal of the game at the Stadium of Light

at the stadium of light

Sunderland were unable to dig themselves out of the relegation places after Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory here on Wednesday. Agbonlahor, who also scored the only goal on Wearside last season, capitalised on Lee Cattermole’s error to open the scoring after a quarter of an hour and secure his side’s first league win in six games.

However, the home side were unlucky not to emerge with a point after Emanuele Giaccherini had a 52nd-minute equaliser incorrectly ruled out for offside, a decision which left the Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, risking official sanction after criticising the referee. “It was a very difficult day for me today,” he said. “I need to be careful with what I say because it could bring consequences. It could be a good excuse, that the referee [Mike Jones] was poor. He didn’t let us play when we needed to, he stopped the game a hundred times, he talked to everybody – the only thing missing was him making a phone call.”

The reality is that his side remain stranded at the bottom of the table despite encouraging results at Everton and Cardiff over the festive period. Cattermole miscontrolled Valentin Roberge’s pass and allowed Agbonlahor to round goalkeeper Vito Mannone  and walk the ball into the empty net.

Leandro Bacuna came close to extending the visitors’ lead, only just failing to get a touch to Ashley Westwood’s 29th-minute cross. And Mannone came to Sunderland’s rescue within three minutes of the restart when he dived to his left to turn away Bacuna’s well-struck drive.

The home side were aggrieved when the offside call went against them after Giaccherini stabbed home from Steven Fletcher’s knock-down.

But with Sunderland pushing men forward in the search for an equaliser, the game opened up even more, and  Villa created several chances to extend their lead.

On 72 minutes Phil Bardsley headed Christian Benteke’s shot off the line after the striker had turned Roberge inside out. Mannone then had to claw Marc Albrighton’s fizzing shot out of his top corner with seven minutes remaining, and the substitute really should have wrapped up the win when he went one-on-one with the keeper, but failed to hit the target.

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