Villa safe and Burnley doomed? It was a big day down the bottom of the Premier League

There were wins for Villa, Sunderland and Swansea.

Tom Cleverley scored Villa's all-important third against Everton.
Tom Cleverley scored Villa's all-important third against Everton.
Image: Nick Potts

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE CONTINUED to haul Aston Villa closer to Premier League safety, scoring a crucial brace in his side’s 3-2 victory over Everton at Villa Park.

The Belgian has been revitalised following new manager Tim Sherwood’s arrival in February and was at the double before the break to help move Villa into 14th – albeit still only two points clear of the bottom three after Sunderland also won on Saturday.

Benteke scored at either end of the first half to earn the FA Cup finalists a two-goal lead that their dominance deserved.

Roberto Martinez’s Everton - lacklustre prior to the break – were afforded a way back into the game when Romelu Lukaku joined his compatriot on the scoresheet with a penalty before the hour mark.

However, Tom Cleverley scored for a second week running just five minutes later to further bolster Villa’s survival hopes and leave Martinez scratching his head.

Everton, so positive in their 3-0 win over Manchester United last time out, were undone by a confident Villa side despite a scrappy late header from Phil Jagielka.

Meanwhile, Jordi Gomez scored two penalties as Sunderland boosted their  survival hopes with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Southampton.

Britain Soccer Premier League Sunderland remain in the bottom three but have pulled away from 19th place QPR Source: AP/Press Association Images

Having seen Leicester City beat Newcastle United 3-0 earlier in the day, Sunderland needed maximum points in their penultimate home game of the season at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to avoid being cut adrift in the bottom three.

And they were giving a helping hand thanks to some haphazard defending from Southampton in a game that stood in stark contrast to the 8-0 hammering Sunderland suffered at St Mary’s Stadium in the reverse fixture in October.

Gomez opened the scoring for Dick Advocaat’s men in the 21st minute with a coolly converted spot-kick following Jose Fonte’s foul on Danny Graham.

Sunderland had barely finished celebrating when Sadio Mane took advantage of a calamitous defensive error less than two minutes later.

However, the home side were given another lifeline as James Ward-Prowse was sent off for bringing down Jermain Defoe, with midfielder Gomez stepping up to score a 55th-minute winner and move the Wearsiders to within a point of safety.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Ham United v Burnley - Upton Park Michael Duff's dismissal proved decisive at Upton Park Source: Adam Davy

Mark Noble’s penalty was enough for West Ham to see off 10-man Burnley 1-0 and leave Sean Dyche’s men on the brink of relegation.

Saturday’s contest at Upton Park was settled when Michael Duff chopped down Cheikhou Kouyate in the 24th minute, with the defender unlucky to receive a red card for the challenge.

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Noble sent goalkeeper Tom Heaton the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick and that was enough for West Ham to collect just a third league win of 2015.

Rock-bottom Burnley – who have three games remaining – are now eight points adrift of Leicester and Hull , while the gap to Newcastle and Villa is nine.

If Burnley lose at Hull next weekend then the Lancashire will be back playing in the Championship next season.

A lack of goals has been Burnley’s trouble and they have now drawn blanks in six straight matches, as Danny Ings and Ashley Barnes both saw good chances go begging in the first half.

Both teams had chances in a lively second half, but one goal was enough for Sam Allardyce’s side to end a four-match winless run.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Swansea City v Stoke City - Liberty Stadium Ireland's Marc Wilson saw red at the Liberty Stadium Source: Paul Harding

Elsewhere, Jefferson Montero scored his first Swansea City goal as the Welsh club earned a 2-0 victory over 10-man Stoke City. The Ecuadorian stooped at the far post to head in a Jonjo Shelvey cross after 76 minutes, before substitute Ki Sung-yueng made sure of the points in stoppage time, pulling Swansea within four points of seventh-placed Southampton.

Gerrard the match winner as late header keeps Liverpool’s top four hopes alive

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