Premier League - Sunderland held by Villa
Stiliyan Petrov opened the scoring with an unstoppable effort from the edge of the penalty area before Connor Wickham grabbed his first Premier League goal with a well-taken finish.
Villa looked to have secured all three points with just five minutes to go as Richard Dunne converted Petrov's set-piece but the hosts snatched a late equaliser as Stephane Sessegnon nodded home in the dying moments.
Darren Bent, who made a big-money move from Sunderland in January was at the centre of much jeering throughout the match and should have put Villa a goal to the good on the quarter-hour mark to silence the boos, but skewed his shot wide from four yards.
Wickham looked lively throughout and should have done better with a couple of chances early on from the edge of the Villa area, but failed to test Shay Given.
Villa had struggled stringing more than a handful of passes together during the opening 15 minutes but went on the counter attack and found the net in spectacular style.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey linked up well down the left before the ball was switched to Alan Hutton on the far side. The right back rolled the ball inside to Petrov who dropped his shoulder to create some space before unleashing a wicked left-footed effort into the top right-hand corner.
Sunderland continued to attack and were rewarded for their endeavour with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The lively Stephane Sessegnon held up the ball well before rolling Chris Herd and feeding Wickham into the penalty area.
The youngster shrugged off the challenge of Hutton and slammed the ball into the far corner, leaving Given no chance.
Although the hosts controlled the opening half, they didn't have it all their way during the second 45 minutes as Villa finally settled and knocked the ball around well.
However, it was the hosts that should have nudged in front on the hour mark as Michael Turner spurned a fantastic opportunity.
Sunderland were awarded a corner following a rapid break through Sessegnon, who impressed throughout, but Turner could only direct his header over the bar from 10 yards.
Larsson then linked up with his former Birmingham team-mate Bendtner just four minutes later. The Swede switched flanks and found some space on the right to cross dangerously for the Dane who was unmarked in the Villa box. Unfortunately for the home fans the striker glanced his Chicharito-esque backwards header over the bar.
10 minutes later Villa really should have been in front. Bent, largely anonymous throughout, was gifted a glorious chance through some neat work by Agbonlahor on the edge of the penalty area.
The two strikers exchanged a one-two to put Bent through on goal, but with only replacement keeper Kieren Westwood to beat he toe-poked his effort into the feet of the 27-year-old.
Again, the Sunderland fans directed their jeers towards Bent but they were soon quietened by Villa taking the lead once more.
Man of the match Petrov's whipped free kick into the penalty area was met by the towering Dunne who glanced the ball into the far corner past the rooted Westwood.
The visitors attempted to stay strong at the back and hold out for victory but fell short when Dunne gave away a needless free kick outside Villa's 18-yard box.
Sessegnon, who deserved a goal, found himself unmarked near the penalty spot and coolly nodded the ball into the bottom corner.
Neither side looked content with a point during the four minutes of stoppage time but the frantic football failed to yield a decisive goal, leaving both teams mired in mid-table.