Aston Villa end Everton’s run and inch closer to safety

Sunderland pick up precious three points while Burnley remain rooted to the bottom

Aston Villa 3 Everton 2

Christian Benteke’s brace inspired Aston Villa to a vital 3-2 victory over lacklustre Everton.

The red hot striker scored his ninth and 10th goals in eight games to ease Villa to a crucial win and maintain their cushion over the drop zone.

Tom Cleverley added a third just after Romelu Lukaku's penalty gave Everton hope of a comeback. Phil Jagielka pulled a goal back in injury time but Villa hung on for just their fourth home league win of the season.


The hosts deserved their victory against the poor Toffees, who rarely showed the form which had seen them win five of their last six league games.

Villa are two points above the Barclays Premier League bottom three but are now, importantly, above free-falling Newcastle on goal difference in 14th.

Shay Given made his first top flight start since August 2012 — when he played against Everton — after Brad Guzan was dropped following a shaky performance in the defeat at Manchester City.

Sunderland 2 Southampton 1

Jordi Gomez struck twice from the penalty spot as Sunderland rekindled their Barclays Premier League survival hopes with a priceless victory over 10-man Southampton.

The Spaniard struck after 21 minutes and then again 10 minutes into the second half after first Jose Fonte and then James Ward-Prowse, who was sent off for his pains, fell foul of referee Mike Jones with striker Danny Graham the man causing the problems on both occasions.

In the meantime, Sadio Mane had drawn the visitors level when he capitalised on keeper Costel Pantilimon's error, but the Saints were far from at their best as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat in front of a crowd of 39,613 at the Stadium of Light.

It was just the Black Cats' sixth win of the league campaign and only their fourth at home, and it could hardly have been any more welcome with Dick Advocaat's men, for whom Adam Johnson made a late appearance as a substitute, having slipped into the bottom three last weekend.

West Ham United 1 Burnley 0

Burnley face an uphill battle to preserve their Premier League status after their 10 men slipped to defeat at West Ham.

Sean Dyche's side remain bottom of the table and now sit eight points from safety with just three fixtures remaining after losing 1-0 at Upton Park as Mark Noble converted a first-half penalty following Michael Duff's sending off.

The visitors had started well against a West Ham side who had won just two of their previous 17 league fixtures going into this game and Danny Ings missed two good chances before the Hammers were handed the initiative as FA Cup final referee Jonathan Moss dismissed Duff for clipping Cheikhou Kouyate in the box.

Noble converted the resulting penalty, the first West Ham have scored in the Premier League this season, and only smart goalkeeping from Tom Heaton kept Burnley in the game before the interval.

The Hammers might be safe in mid-table but Sam Allardyce’s side had scored only three goals in their previous seven games and they failed to make their numerical advantage pay — having to settle for a single goal as their fans endured a tense finish to the game.

For Burnley, the defeat would have been all the more galling given the fact fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa, Leicester and Sunderland all picked up crucial wins whilst they have now lost four games in succession.

Swansea 2 Stoke City 0

Swansea stole a march on Stoke in the battle for eighth place in the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero’s first goal in English football broke the deadlock after 76 minutes before substitute Ki Sung-yueng settled matters in stoppage time with a firm sidefoot finish.

The win extends Swansea’s advantage over ninth place to six points with three games of the season remaining and the Welsh club look on course for their highest-ever Premier League finish.

Stoke had started the day in ninth spot but they offered precious little in attack and were reduced to 10 men for the first time in the Premier League this season when Marc Wilson tripped Montero five minutes from the end to collect a second yellow card.

The first half was a forgettable affair but Swansea eventually found the fluency which had been missing from their game and dominated the second period.

But it looked as if they might be denied until Jonjo Shelvey kept the ball in down the right flank and crossed to the far post where Montero beat Phil Bardsley to score with a diving header.

Stoke were a man short when substitute Modou Barrow broke free and found Shelvey at the far post, the midfielder pulling the ball back for Ki to score with aplomb.