Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland turn heat up on Houllier

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.

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

Heskey, who played under Steve 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 off 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. 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. Jordan 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 and replaced by Cristian Riveros. Zenden was also sent off for a second bookable offence when he fouled Stiliyan Petrov.

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