Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has tipped hat-trick hero Christian Benteke to enjoy a big future in the game - but still passed man-of-the-match honours to Matthew Lowton following the 6-1 rout of Sunderland.
Villa's win not only took them five points clear of third-bottom Wigan, it also improved their goal difference as they overhauled Newcastle. After Ron Vlaar and Danny Rose had traded strikes Andreas Wiemann put Villa ahead again in the first half, and Lambert had Benteke to thank following his second-half heroics before Gabriel Agbonlahor added a sixth.
Benkete's efforts were still not enough for his manager to select him as Villa's stand-out performer on a dream night, though. Lambert said: "He was all right but Matt Lowton was the best player on the pitch by an absolute mile."
He added of hat-trick hero Benteke: "You can't speak highly enough of him. He keeps his feet on the ground and is hungry to have success as a footballer. I thought we needed a striker like that. He is a big lad and everyone can see his technique is fabulous.
"He played a lot games for Genk. He is Belgium's main target player and they are going to qualify for the World Cup.
"People forget he is 22. He has a big career in front of him as long as he keeps working hard."
Typically, Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio pulled no punches afterwards as his side's two-game winning run came to a shuddering halt, apologising to the visiting supporters for a performance he branded "unacceptable".
"There were two different teams on the field," he said. "Aston Villa had a ferocity. They had desire and ambition, like it was the last chance of their lives. For us, after two wins in a row, our stomach was a bit full. When you eat a lot, you relax, you sleep.
"We have to apologise to the supporters. You can lose with a big gap but the way it happened was not acceptable.
"Now we have to work with blood in our eyes."