Ten-man Aston Villa held on for a 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland on Sunday as the two teams inched away from the Premier League relegation zone.
Villa extended their unbeaten run against the Black Cats to seven games, but suffered from the absence of joint top scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was serving a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards.
Kieran Richardson was also suspended for Paul Lambert’s side, while Joe Cole, Ashley Westwood, Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker were all out injured.
The home side edged possession and attempts on goal during a scoreless first half, but Villa’s task was complicated three minutes after the restart when Fabian Delph was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge.
Villa made it nine matches on the trot in which they have conceded one goal or less, while Sunderland extended their unbeaten streak on the road to five games.
Aston Villa climb to 21 points, five above Crystal Palace in the final relegation spot, while Gus Poyet’s men are now on 20 points.
Sunderland poured forward with their numerical advantage and rained 15 shots on target, with Jordi Gomez blasting a shot off the post from just outside the penalty area in the dying moments.
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