Premier League - Dunne gifts Sunderland victory
Sat, 23 Oct 16:48:00 2010
In a hard-fought encounter it was always going to take a touch of class or a clumsy left boot to separate the sides, and Dunne provided the latter in the 25th minute.
It was Dunne's eighth own goal in the Premier League, a record, as the defender turned a devilish delivery from Steed Malbranque beyond Brad Friedel.
Villa came into the match off the back of four defeats in their last five away matches in the League and it became five in six for Gerard Houllier's side as they failed to muster a response in a lacklustre display.
Darren Bent shook off his persistent groin problem to assume a starting berth in attack, and a neat interchange with Jordan Henderson down the right should have seen the Black Cats in front inside three minutes, but for a lethargic header wide from Malbranque.
The match began at a frantic pace, and seconds later Villa could have stamped their authority on proceedings as Stewart Downing saw a low drive rebound off the near post following Ashley Young's incisive through ball.
Nigel Reo-Coker, who took the captain's armband from Stiliyan Petrov after the Bulgarian sustained an early injury, was convinced he had won a penalty after he felt he was clipped by Lee Cattermole in the 20th minute, but referee Mark Halsey was not remotely impressed.
Friedel was left helpless for the goal but he single-handedly prevented his side slipping two down with a stunning reflex save to deny Danny Welbeck from close range two minutes after the opener.
Villa had scored in 16 of their last 19 Premier League games and Young should have continued that run and levelled the scores five minutes after the break, but the winger could only fire a tame effort straight at Simon Mignolet from Downing's pinpoint pass.
Houllier decided he had seen enough of the ineffectual Stephen Ireland in the 55th minute and introduced winger Marc Albrighton, and the substitute did at least manage to inject some urgency into his side's play.
Villa should have squared the match up again after the hour mark as Downing drilled a testing delivery across the Sunderland six-yard box which inexplicably evaded Emile Heskey, Titus Bramble and Mignolet, who all contrived to miss the ball with the goal unguarded.
A chaotic spell ensued as both sides created chances and the best fell to Dunne who failed to atone for his earlier blunder with a scuffed shot wide from close range following Albrighton's initial effort.
Sunderland have only lost one of their last 14 Premier League home games since Villa beat them at the Stadium of Light last December, and the visitors were unable to muster a response to test their resolve with Heskey, in particular, culpable of squandering a string of half chances late on.
The Black Cats victory moves Bruce's side above Bolton into seventh place in the table, while Villa slip to ninth as a result of the defeat.Dan Quarrell / Eurosport