English Premiership

Benteke double sparks Villa

2014-03-02 21:13
Christian Benteke (AFP)

Birmingham - Christian Benteke has scored twice as Aston Villa came from a goal behind to beat Norwich City 4-1 on Sunday and move seven points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

It was a remarkable turnaround for Villa, who'd gone three games without scoring a goal.

The omens were not promising for Villa manager Paul Lambert against his former club when Wes Hoolahan gave visitors Norwich a third minute lead.

But a rainswept Villa Park then saw Benteke score two goals in three minutes and before half time the Birmingham club were 4-1 in front thanks to Leandro Bacuna and an own-goal from Sebastien Bassong.

Defeat left Norwich just four points above the bottom three but having played a game more than nearest pursuers Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, and two games more than beaten League Cup finalists Sunderland.

Things looked good for the Canaries, fresh from a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, and their under-pressure manager Chris Hughton when they took an early lead,.

Gary Hooper beat the offside trap to get in behind a static Villa defence and his cut-back found Hoolahan, who steered the ball in but did not celebrate a goal against a club he has been tipped to join.

But Villa hit back in style when Benteke, seemingly well-shackled by Joseph Yobo, took a ball on his chest, turned and volleyed in an equaliser from 15 yards in the 25th minute.

Barely had Norwich had time to recover from that blow then Villa were in front when Belgium striker Benteke powered in a header from a corner.

Hoolahan was twice denied in quick succession by Brad Guzan, the Villa keeper blocking a shot and follow-up header.

To make matters worse for Norwich, they soon found themselves 3-1 behind when a Villa counter-attack saw the speedy Gabriel Agbonlahor release Andreas Weimann, who in turn found Bacuna on the overlap.

Bacuna cut inside and then steered a sht home off the inside off the post.

And four minutes before the break Villa were 4-1 up when the unfortunate Bassong could do nothing but steer Fabian Delph's cross into his own net, with Agbonlahor lurking behind him.

Unsurprisingly, the second half failed to match the first and when Hooper did break the offside trap six minutes from time his shot was parried away to safety by Guzan.


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