Bent's brace boosts Villa
Darren Bent (Gallo Images)
Birmingham - Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor were the stars as Aston Villa came from behind to beat Norwich City 3-2 in an entertaining Premier League encounter at Villa Park on Saturday.
Anthony Pilkington had given Norwich the lead, but Bent restored parity within five minutes.
Agbonlahor then put the home side ahead before Bent made it 3-1, and while Steve Morison set up a grandstand finish by pulling back a second goal for the Canaries, Villa held on to claim only their third league win of the season, and their first in four outings.
The victory will help ease the pressure that had already been starting to build on Villa manager Alex McLeish, and the three points take them above Norwich in the table.
The Canaries arrived in the West Midlands having lost just once in their last six games, and started brightly, with Shay Given having to save from both Pilkington and Morison early on.
An alert John Ruddy then saved from Bent at the other end, before Norwich took the lead after 25 minutes.
Pilkington, a summer signing from Huddersfield Town, stepped up to curl a brilliant free-kick from just outside the box and into Given's top left-hand corner for his fourth of the campaign.
But Bent hauled Villa level with his own fourth of the campaign, turning home from inside the six-yard box after some superb wing play down the left from Agbonlahor.
The hosts merited their equaliser having enjoyed the lion's share of the possession in the opening period, and they went on to get their noses in front within moments of the restart.
Bent had seen an effort disallowed for offside before a short Leon Barnett backpass was pounced upon by Agbonlahor, who slotted home.
It was 3-1 just after the hour, with Agbonlahor popping up on the right this time to send in a brilliant cross that Bent could not fail to turn in to the net.
That duo's display will have attracted the attention of England manager Fabio Capello, as he prepares to name his squad for next week's friendly with reigning European and World Champions Spain.
With Charles N'Zogbia also a threat, it seemed certain that Villa would go on to win by more goals, but Norwich then ensured a nervous finish as Grant Holt crossed from the left for Morison to head in.
The Canaries had come from 3-1 down to snatch a draw at home to Blackburn last weekend, but there was to be no repeat this time, and Paul Lambert's side drop to ninth in the table.