SUNDERLAND, United Kingdom (AFP) - Jermain Defoe scored twice as Sunderland beat Aston Villa 3-1 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to boost their own Premier League survival hopes and leave Villa further marooned at the bottom.
Defoe struck twice in the last 20 minutes after Patrick van Aanholt's first-half opener for the home side had been cancelled out by a spectacular Carles Gil strike.
The win ended a run of five successive defeats for Sunderland and lifted Sam Allardyce's side to within four points of safety, although they remain second from bottom.
In stark contrast, Villa are now seven points adrift at the bottom of the table and remain 11 points from safety as their long run without a win goes on.
They have still not secured a victory since the opening weekend of the campaign and manager Remi Garde has failed to win any of his nine matches in charge.
Villa's hopes of taking anything from this encounter were not helped by the absence of the suspended Jordan Ayew, scorer of five of their 15 league goals coming into this weekend.
Jordan Veretout forced an early save from Vito Mannone in the home goal as Villa started brightly enough but they found themselves behind on the half-hour mark when a Van Aanholt shot ended up in the back of the net via a huge deflection off Micah Richards.
On a dreary day in the north-east of England, Villa gave themselves some hope when the Spaniard Gil marked his return to the side with a stunning hit to equalise just after the hour.
Adama Traore crossed from the right and Gil met the ball with an acrobatic first-time volley on his left foot that gave Mannone no chance.
However, Sunderland were back in front in the 72nd minute thanks to Defoe, who got away from Joleon Lescott and beat Brad Guzan at his near post.
The former England striker then wrapped up the points and rubbed salt into Villa's wounds when he made it 3-1 at the death, converting Ola Toivonen's pass for his second of the afternoon and sixth of the season in the Premier League.