Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar opened the home side's account in the 31 minute - only for Danny Rose to reply within a minute for Sunderland.

However, in the 38th minute Villa retook the lead courtesy of  Andreas Weimann.

Sunderland had the ball in the Villa net in the 44th minute - but the whistle had already gone for a foul.

After the break Christian Benteke scores twice in quick succession with headers - in the 55th and 60th minutes - to heap the pressure on Sunderland.

It goes from bad to worse for Sunderland as Stephane Sessegnon is sent off for stamping his studs down onto Sylla's ankle. Will now miss the Black Cats remaining games.

In the 72 minute Villa notch their fifth after Cuellar loses the ball, which finds its way to Benteke who rifles it beneath Mignolet to claim his hat-trick.

Sub David Vaughan passes to Agbonlahor who rounds the Sunderland keeper to slot home in 88th minute to make it 6-1. Villa now above Newcastle on goal difference.

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Westwood, Delph, Sylla, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor. Subs: Given, Bent, N'Zogbia, Holman, Bowery, Bannan, Lichaj. SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Larsson, N'Diaye, Gardner, Johnson, Sessegnon, Graham. Subs: Westwood, Kilgallon, Colback, Vaughan, Mangane, McClean, Mandron. Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)