Aston Villa moved one step closer towards Premier League survival as a Gabriel Agbonlahor double secured a dramatic 2-1 win at Norwich.
to Stoke, Javier Garrido, Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan coming in for
Steven Whittaker, Alexander Tettey and Kei Kamara.
Villa, by contrast, made no changes to the team that romped to a
6-1 victory over Sunderland last Monday.
It took a while for either team to exert any
superiority in what was a scrappy opening to the contest, the highlight of
which was a tame header from Norwich defender Ryan Bennett from a Robert
Snodgrass free-kick, which was easily saved by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The visitors suffered a blow midway through the
first half, with ever-present full-back Matthew Lowton replaced by Eric Lichaj
27 minutes into the half due to an ankle injury.
However, in spite of that, Paul Lambert's side remained resolute
at the back, although Chris Hughton's men continued to create the better
opportunities and their best chance fell to striker Grant Holt, whose diving
header flew just over the crossbar following an excellent ball in from Garrido
three minutes before the interval.
Villa showed very little as an attacking threat
but almost took the lead in fortuitous circumstances on the stroke of half-time
as Yacouba Sylla's cross deflected off Garrido and on to the top of the crossbar.
The stalemate continued until the break, but it did not take
long for the visitors to take the lead in the second half, Agbonlahor
netting his eighth goal of the season on 53 minutes with a spectacular
solo effort as he ran from the halfway line before firing a powerful shot past Mark Bunn and into the bottom corner.
Norwich almost responded six minutes later, Hoolahan
heading wide from another Garrido cross with Russell Martin better positioned
to latch on to the delivery.
Villa continued to attack with confidence despite that scare
and twice went close to adding a second, Andreas Weimann prodding over from an
Agbonlahor cross on 62 minutes before Fabian Delph curled high soon after.
Agbonlahor was at the centre of everything for the visitors and
went close again, hitting a close-range effort just wide of the far post after
connecting to a flick-on from Christian Benteke.
Yet for all the effort Lambert's charges demonstrated going
forward, they were undone as Holt levelled from the penalty spot on 74 minutes after
Joe Bennett was adjudged to have hauled down Snodgrass just inside the area.
Norwich continued in the ascendancy following that goal and their best chance to take the points fell to Holt after 86 minutes, as he
volleyed wide after controlling a flicked header from substitute Kamara.
It was Villa who would have the final say, though, when Agbonlahor raced on to an Ashley Westwood throughball in the last minute of normal time and
slotted a cool finish under Bunn and into the bottom corner.
Holt headed wide in the final seconds of injury time as Norwich pressed for an equaliser, but
Villa stood firm to earn a win that puts Lambert's side on the brink of
|Coach: C. Hughton|
for W. Hoolahan 72'
for R. Snodgrass 86'
for Javier Garrido 90+3'
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