Aston Villa boss Lambert hails hat-trick hero Benteke

Paul Lambert has lavished praise on Christian Benteke after the Aston Villa striker scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Sunderland that boosts the club’s hopes of securing their Premier League status, BBC Sport has reported.

The treble took Benteke to 22 goals in all competitions this season, his first in English football, and moved Villa five points clear of Wigan Athletic, who occupy the final relegation place after both Queens Park Rangers and Reading succumbed to the drop on Sunday. The Latics do however have a game in hand on their Midlands rivals.

But Lambert was effuse in his praise for Benteke, commending the Belgium international for his form this season, his physical gifts, and predicting a bright future for the player. Lambert said: “He’s been fabulous. He has a big, big career in front of him. For a lad of 22 he has played a lot of high-pressure games for club and country.

The crowd here love him and I can’t speak highly enough of him. As long as he keeps his feet on the ground he can have a big career. When you look at his header for his second goal he jumped the height of the crossbar. He has just been excellent.

Defender Ron Vlaar gave Villa the lead against Sunderland, breaking the deadlock just past the half-hour mark, but Sunderland’s Danny Rose quickly levelled. Andreas Weimann restored Villa’s advantage before in the second-half Benteke took over, netting three times in 17 minutes. Gabriel Agbonlahor completed the scoring with two minutes to play while Stephane Sessegnon was sent off for the visitors.

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