Gabby Agbonlahor is hoping for a New Year surge after Villa began 2014 with a victory at the Stadium of Light.
Agbonlahor repeated his match-winning exploits of last season by once again scoring the only goal of the game on Wearside.
And he was relieved to help Villa earn a maximum haul after a difficult set of results during the Christmas period.
"We've had a hard couple of weeks and to get a few points on the table is always important," said the striker.
"It has put us up to joint 10th so it gives us a little bit of breathing space.
"It is a good way to start the New Year and we've got to continue it.
"I think we had a lot of chances and could have won the game by three or four.
"But we'll take the result and move on to the next game against Sheffield United."
Agbonlahor described the chance to put Villa ahead as "a gift" after he seized on Lee Cattermole's error.
Nevertheless, the 27-year-old jumped at the opportunity to bag his third goal in four games against the Black Cats.
"It was a gift really to get a chance like that," he added.
"I was lucky enough to get the chance and then put it in.
"They were playing a bit of risky football at the back and to get the chance, I was buzzing with it.
"I had another chance on my left foot and we had quite a few as a team but we'll take that result."
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