Gus Poyet’s position under threat as Sunderland suffer heavy defeat to Aston Villa

Palace add to QPR woes while Tony Pulis’s West Brom gets one over Stoke

Sunderland 0 Aston Villa 4

Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor combined to leave Gus Poyet’s job hanging by a thread as Aston Villa tore Sunderland apart.

Villa, who had scored only four Premier League goals on the road all season, doubled their tally inside 44 remarkable minutes, and but for a glaring miss by Scott Sinclair, could have led 5-0 at the break.

However, doubles from Benteke – his first ended a 614-minute wait for an away goal in the league – and Agbonlahor gave them a commanding lead they never looked like surrendering as they ran out 4-0 winners.


That left Poyet, who was confronted by angry supporters close to his dug-out, to walk the gauntlet as the locals among a crowd of 45,746 – the biggest of the season – at the Stadium of Light, voted with their feet with many leaving long before the final whistle.

Villa’s third successive win, two of them in the league after seven defeats on the trot, eased Tim Sherwood’s men further clear of the drop zone, but left Sunderland deep in trouble and the Uruguayan, whose side has now won just one of its last 11 league games on home soil, facing a no-holds-barred inquest with the Black Cats’ season unravelling alarmingly.

Crystal Palace 3 QPR 1

QPR’s Premier League status is looking more precarious than ever after Crystal Palace ran amok in the first half at Selhurst Park.

For a side staring down the barrel of an immediate return to the Championship, Rangers’ capitulation after a solid start was nothing short of embarrassing.

Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Joel Ward all struck what proved decisive first-half efforts as Palace won 3-1, with Matt Phillips's late goal of the season contender a mere consolation as the west Londoners suffered a ninth defeat in 10 top-flight matches.

This felt like a potentially season-defining performance, never mind result, as Chris Ramsey’s men downed tools after a bright start, with Zaha’s bravery rewarded with the opening goal.

Yannick Bolasie was the architect just as he was for Palace's second, with McArthur tapping home shortly before Ward netted his first goal for the club.

The Premier League’s worst away side managed to stem the tide in the second half and pulled one back through Phillips’s incredible 40-yard drive – little comfort given defeat leaves them three points from safety.

QPR now have just five points to show from their last 12 top-flight outings, whereas Alan Pardew’s side now look all-but certain to stay up after this win.

West Brom 1 Stoke 0

Brown Ideye’s first-half winner sealed a narrow 1-0 victory for West Brom as Tony Pulis returned to haunt Stoke again.

The striker’s seventh goal of the season settled the game to move the Baggies 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

Ex-Potters manager Pulis – who also beat Stoke 1-0 while at Crystal Palace last season – saw Albion recover from back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa.

They were also denied a penalty after Craig Dawson appeared to be fouled in the box and Ideye had a goal disallowed.

The Potters, who remain eighth, were poor but Jonathan Walters did force substitute goalkeeper Boaz Myhill into a smart second-half save.

Leicester 0 Hull 0

Bottom club Leicester failed to see off Hull after Tom Huddlestone’s sending-off handed them a huge opportunity at the King Power Stadium.

With both sides struggling at the wrong end of the table, this laborious goalless draw lived down to expectations, but the Foxes had both home advantage and the greater need for points and will be frustrated not to have gathered a desperately-needed win.

They were second best for most of the game, but when Huddlestone was dismissed for a second booking in the 71st minute they had a priceless chance to redefine their faltering campaign.

Manager Nigel Pearson, a less-than-beloved former Hull boss, emptied his bench of attackers in pursuit of three points but the stalemate endured.

Tigers skipper Michael Dawson was outstanding at the back, marshalling Hull’s defence throughout, and without his organisation they might well have creaked under pressure.

But a goal would have provided a crescendo this damp squib did not warrant.