Norwich City 1 Aston Villa 2

Last updated : 04 May 2013 By Mark Burchett

Paul Lambert's Aston Villa performed the perfect smash and grab raid and left Carrow Road with all three points that all but have secured their Premiership place for next season!

For Chris Hughton, although the players put in a far better performance than they have for several weeks, he will now be praying that his side win next Saturday at Carrow Road when West Bromwich Albion are the visitors.

Before the game, the ex-Canary boss Lambert didn't court attention, quietly taking his place on the visitor bench.

The Canaries, backed by a vociferous home crowd started the game with serious intent, winning two corners in the first six minutes! The visitors did show in the 11th minute that they weren't going to let the Canaries have it all their own way, when Gabriel Agbonlahor broke through the Canaries defence. His shot was deflected out for a corner by Sebastian Bassong.

Wes Hoolahan was at the heart of many of the home sides moves and realising the danger defender Joe Bennett stopped the mercurial Irishman at all costs. In doing so he was the first player to be booked for a rugby style pull back.

Before Villa could take their second corner, Lambert made a forced change in the 28th minute bringing off Matthew Lowton, who had struggled since he pulled up when trying to clear a Snodgrass cross, with American Eric Lichaj replacing him.

But the Canaries continued to control the game and again forced Lambert's side back, who reacted in the 34th minute conceding a freekick inside the 'D'. The in-form Snodgrass pulled back by Bennett, although it was Lichaj that was penalised. The freekick was straight at the wall, rebounding to Hoolahan, who teed up Snodgrass, with the midfielder seeing his shot saved by the Villa keeper Bradley Guzan.

Villa managed to get a the first real foot hold into the game as the first half was ending. They were the closest to opening the scoring with Ron Vlaar's shot coming off the head of Garrido to hit the top of the cross-bar with Mark Bunn beaten.

HALF-TIME: City 0 Aston Villa 0

Villa began the half as they ended the first half, with Benteke looking to catch the home defence sleeping, as he tested Bunn, but the City keeper was more than equal to it.

Although it was short lived as the Canaries soon got their foot on the ball with Howson and Johnson controlling the middle of the pitch, pressing Villa back again.

But for all that pressing the visitors stunned Carrow Road in the 57th minute with the opening goal. Agbonlahor was allowed to run through from midfield and have time to shoot from well outside the area to find a way past Bunn! Lambert showed a great deal of respect to the side he managed so wonderfully for three years until leaving to take charge of Villa last year and showed no sign of celebration.

City players immediately responded winning a corner, although Lichaj easily cleared the danger. They were then spared going further behind when on a counter-attack Weimann blasted over from just 5-yards out from Agbonlahor' cross.

Snodgrass forced the issue in the 74th minute, after his surging run in to the area was abruptly ended by Bennett. The defender may have conceded the penalty and having already been booked he somehow avoided any further caution and was lucky to stay on the field.

Up stepped Holt to triumphantly blast home the penalty kick to deservedly put City back on level terms. This regenerated the home crowd with the volume of their support racking up, as City went looking for the winner.

City's Man of the Match Snodgrass, continued to cause the Villa defence problems with Nathan Baker and then Ashley Westwood having to block the midfielder's shots. Having given his all to the Canary cause he was substituted in the 85th minute, with Elliott Bennett replacing him.

Having dominated the majority of the second half, they succumbed to a sucker punch in the last minute of normal time as Agbonlahor, with a carbon copy of his first goal, put Villa back into the lead.

This immediately prompted Hughton to bring on an extra striker in Simeon Jackson, sacrificing defender Garrido, but it was far too late for the Canadian to have any real impact!

With Wigan winning at West Bromwich Albion, the last thing Hughton wanted was to see his side lose at home to Aston Villa plunging them in real danger!

FULL-TIME: City 1 Aston Villa 2

Norwich Aston Villa



28 Bunn

22 Guzan

2 R Martin

4 Vlaar

5 Bassong

27 Bennett

18 Garrido ***

32 Baker
24 R Bennett 34 Lowton *

4 Johnson

15 Westwood

7 Snodgrass **

16 Delph

8 Howson

18 Sylla **
12 Pilkington 11 Agbonlahor

14 Hoolahan *

20 Benteke
9 Holt 26 Weimann



42 Camp (GK)

1 Given (GK)
3 Whittaker 30 Lichaj * 28

20 Barnett

10 N'Zogbia
17 E Bennett ** 85 14 Holman ** 78

27 Tettey

25 Bannan

10 Jackson *** 90+1

9 Bent

16 Kamara * 71

21 Bowery

City: Holt Pen (74)
Aston Villa: Agbonlahor (55, 89)

City: Johnson (59); Bennett (90+5)
Aston Villa: Bennett (17); Delpth (54); Benteke (68)

Referee: Mr Friend

Attendance: 26, 842