Martin O'Neill's side may not have put the Black Cats to the sword, but in the end they were comfortable winners.
- Sunderland 0-2 Aston Villa: As it happened
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It was a miserable night for the home side, who in the end not only saw their team brushed aside, but also had skipper Lorik Cana sent off for two bookable offences.
It didn't start badly for the Wearsiders, who could have gone ahead after just four minutes, but youngster Jordan Henderson's shot flew just wide of the target.
But after that things never really went their way. Manager Steve Bruce, his team and the home support felt that several decisions went against them, much to their chagrin.
So much so that the Sunderland fans made sure match official Kevin Friend and his assistant were in no doubt about how they rated their performance as the match officials were met with a crescendo of boos as they left the field at half-time and upon their return after the break.
But while some of the man in the middle's decision were less than favourable towards the hosts, it the Wearsiders themselves who were the architects of their own downfall.
A dreadful wayward pass by George McCartney gave Villa their opener on 24 minutes. The loose ball was pounced upon and Stilyan Petrov played the ball into the feet of James Milner on the edge of the area.
The former Newcastle United man pushed the ball through to Emile Heskey, who fired home from eight yards out.
The hosts did try to get back into the game before the break, but the majority of opportunities which came their way were little better than half-chances.
Henderson fired wide of the mark twice, while Kieran Richardson was also way off-target with an effort on 41 minutes.
But by far the Black Cats' best chance of the opening half came on 35 minutes when Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel got down well to save from Andy Reid, after good work down the right by Henderson.