Villa hit Black Cats for six
Christian Benteke scored a second-half hat-trick as Aston Villa zoomed five points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone following a 6-1 win over Sunderland.
As they celebrated their success over a Sunderland outfit whose shuddering halt to their mini-revival included a red card for Stephane Sessegnon, the home fans wasted no time in taunting Paolo Di Canio, who, when he came here with Swindon earlier this season, indicated Villa were on their way down.
Ron Vlaar's opening goal was cancelled out by Danny Rose's clever finish. However, once Andreas Weimann restored the hosts' lead, they never looked back. Benteke scored the next three goals to put the game out of the Black Cats' reach before Gabriel Agbonlahor completed the rout.
The touchpaper was lit by a pair of memorable strikes as Vlaar and Rose traded goals.
After a couple of brave blocks inside the Sunderland penalty area, the ball shot back towards the halfway line, where Vlaar collected on the edge of the centre circle. The big Dutchman surged forward and netted from fully 30 yards.
But the visitors hit back. Rose exchanged passes with Craig Gardner, then Danny Graham, and powered on into the box, delivering a superb finish.
Yet Sunderland were soon caught with too many men forward, Matthew Lowton delivered a fine crossfield pass and an unmarked Weimann did the rest.
And 10 minutes into the second period, Villa had a third as goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was deceived by Agbonlahor's piledriver and Benteke, onside, was all alone to nod the rebound into an empty net.
And he had only just got started on his evening's work as he rose above Carlos Cuellar to steer home a far-post header before driving his third past a shellshocked Mignolet, his 22nd goal of an incredible campaign.
In between, Sessegnon was dismissed for a tackle that flattened Yacouba Sylla and Sunderland's misery was completed in the final minute as Agbonlahor raced round Mignolet to end the rout.