© PA Photos
The visitors had the first clear chance of the match because of a mistake from Villa keeper Brad Guzan. The American misjudged the ball, allowing Craig Gardner to take it around him, but the Sunderland midfielder couldn't steer his shot in as Nathan Baker put it behind.
Villa should have taken the lead in the 25th minute when Gabriel Agbonlahor gave the ball to Christian Benteke, who returned the favour by flicking it onto the Englishman, but he could only poke his effort wide with only Simon Mignolet to beat.
The hosts were ahead soon after, however, as captain Ron Vlaar latched onto a loose ball before firing a low shot past Mignolet and into the corner.
This lead lasted little more than a minute as Sunderland replied instantly with an equaliser. Danny Rose played the ball into Danny Graham before picking up the return pass and slipping his shot past Guzan.
The Black Cats almost found another dramatic equaliser just three minutes later when Alfred N'Diaye went for goal from distance, but his shot was comfortably saved by Guzan.