Paul Lambert has hailed his team after Aston Villa crushed Sunderland to take a huge step towards avoiding Premier League relegation.

Christian Benteke scored a hat-trick in a resounding 6-1 win which now leaves the Villans five points clear of Wigan, who occupy 18th spot in the table.

Lambert told the official Aston Villa website: “I am delighted to win, first and foremost. The most important thing was to win the game.”

“The way we played, I thought we were absolutely outstanding right from the off. I thought we were fantastic.”

The Scot was quick to acknowledge the impact of Villa’s supporters, with nearly 38,000 cramming into Villa Park to witness an historic victory.

Monday night’s win was only the Birmingham club’s fifth at home this season, but the support has rarely faltered during a mostly disappointing campaign.

“It was a high pressure game,” Lambert said. “The stadium was rocking and the crowd was fantastic. Shooting into that Holte end can be a magnet at times. They draw the ball in.”

“If you can get that on your side and you keep them pressing, the crowd can definitely help them.”

Lambert was also full of praise for Belgian striker Benteke, who now has an impressive 18 Premier League goals after his treble against the Black Cats.

“The big guy has been absolutely brilliant for us,” he said. “The fans love him. To be fair, I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Villa have potentially pivotal away fixtures against Norwich and Wigan remaining with Chelsea at home sandwiched in between.

Three points at Carrow Road would be a massive boost to their chances of survival and last night’s win means they are now just a point behind the Canaries. Neither are safe yet though.

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