A much improved performance from Villa in a lively game led to a vital three points at home thanks to two goals from Darren Bent, and a goal for the provider of both those goals; man of the match Gabby Agbonlahor. Goals from Anthony Pilkington and Steve Morison bookended the home goals, and set up a nervous final ten minutes.
Norwich opened the scoring, slightly against the run of play at the time, thanks to a superbly hit free kick from outside the box by Anthony Pilkington. Shay Given had no chance; top corner it went.
Darren Bent made it 1-1 five minutes later after great work down the left by Gabby Agbonlahor, who squared across the face of goal and Bent did what he does best inside the six yard box.
Gabby made it 2-1 after his persistence chasing a lost cause paid off and a poor back pass by Leon Barnett set up the opportunity to get to the ball before Norwich keeper Ruddy. Gabby nicked the ball inside, off the charging keeper’s toes, before passing into an empty net.
Bent struck again just after the hour mark, fulfilling his promise that one goal will lead to more, finishing off another brilliant cross from Gabby, this time from the right.
Steve Morison jangled home nerves by making it 3-2 with 13 minutes to go, somewhat spoiling the debut of Jermaine Jenas, who came on for Emile Heskey, and the introduction of Stephen Ireland, replacing Stiliyan Petrov. Petrov headed straight down the tunnel, a hamstring injury being the early word.
It was a frantic closing ten minutes then, but in the end Norwich’s desperate attempts to get back level were resisted.
Timeline: Key Events
77′ – Steve Morison.
77′ Aston Villa: Stiliyan Petrov off / Stephen Ireland on.
76′ Norwich: Wes Hoolahan off / Simeonn Jackson on.
75′ Anthony Pilkington.
67′ Aston Villa: Emile Heskey off / Jermaine Jenas on.
63′ Norwich: Elliott Bennett off / David Fox on.
62′ – Darren Bent finishes Gabby Agbonlahor’s superb cross from the right.
48′ Gabby Agbonlahor – capitalised on poor back pass.
45′ – Leon Barnett.
45′ – Andrew Crofts.
35′ Norwich: Bradley Johnson off / Andrew Crofts on. Injury.
34′ – Charles N’Zogbia.
33′ – Wes Hoolahan.
30′ Darren Bent – Great work from Gabby Agbonlahor down the left, fierce low cross across the face of goal, finished by Bent from six yards.
25′ Anthony Pilkington – Direct free kick from outside the box to the top corner.
Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Petrov, Herd, N’Zogbia, Heskey, Agbonlahor, Bent. Subs: Guzan, Clark, Cuellar, Delph, Jenas, Ireland, Albrighton.
Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Barnett, Martin, Tierney, Bennett, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Morison, Holt. Subs: Rudd, De Laet, Fox, Crofts, Surman, Jackson, Wilbraham.