English Premiership

Villa boost survival bid

2013-05-04 18:36
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Getty Images)
Norwich - Gabriel Agbonlahor boosted Aston Villa's English Premiership survival hopes as his late winner secured a vital 2-1 victory at Norwich on Saturday.

Agbonlahor had given Villa the lead early in the second half at Carrow Road and he produced the perfectly timed winner after Grant Holt's penalty had drawn Norwich level.

The victory keeps Villa five points clear of the relegation zone and provided a moment of sweet revenge for boss Paul Lambert, who left Norwich to take charge at Villa Park in acrimonious circumstances last year.

Villa, who thrashed Sunderland 6-1 on Monday, will feel they are within touching distance of safety, while slumping Norwich are only three points clear of the bottom three.

Villa were forced into an early change on 27 minutes when Matthew Lowton hobbled off to be replaced by Eric Lichaj.

Norwich threatened for the first time when Robert Snodgrass hit a free-kick into the wall and then lashed the rebound at Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Norwich full-back Javier Garrido got forward on the overlap down the left, and his cross was just missed by Anthony Pilkington before being headed over by Holt.

Villa opened up the Norwich defence at the start of the second half when Christian Benteke waltzed into the penalty area, only to then shoot tamely at Mark Bunn from 10 yards out.

The visitors broke the deadlock on 55 minutes when Agbonlahor picked the ball up just inside the Norwich half and as the defenders backed off, the England winger surged forward before unleashing a superb strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Villa should have made it 2-0 when Agbonlahor darted away down the left and floated a lovely ball back across the face of goal, but Andreas Weimann somehow sent his half-volley over the bar from two yards.

The Canaries equalised in the 74th minute as Snodgrass got away down the right and cut back into the area, where he was bundled over by Joe Bennett.

Holt had missed Norwich's only other penalty this season, but he made no mistake this time as he crashed the ball into the bottom left corner.

But it was Agbonlahor who secured a crucial three points for Villa when he got ahead of Sebastien Bassong before rolling the ball into the far corner.

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