Aston Villa 4-2 Norwich: Conor Hourihane hits hat-trick
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 20/08/17 8:19pm
Conor Hourihane netted a hat-trick as Aston Villa answered their critics in style with a scintillating 4-2 home triumph over Norwich.
Keinan Davis made a sparkling first-team debut up front, and was involved in Villa's two first-half goals - scored by Hourihane and Andre Green.
The Canaries hit back with a 60th-minute strike from Josh Murphy, but Hourihane bagged his second eight minutes later and, although Norwich stormed back through Nelson Oliveira's strike on 79 minutes, Hourihane made sure of Villa's first Sky Bet Championship win of the season by completing his hat-trick five minutes from time.
Villa boss Steve Bruce, putting his faith in youngsters to lift the midlands club out of the doldrums, drafted in Davis, who has made rapid strides since arriving from Biddleswade United last year, and fellow 19-year-old Green in an attempt to find some goalscoring flair that has been lacking so far this term.
Davis quickly stamped his mark on the game and very nearly made a dream start but was foiled by Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn after going through on his own in the second minute.
Davis could not be subdued, though, and in the 20th minute he sent Hourihane clear down the left. The Irishman's low cross just evaded Ahmed Elmohamady at the far post.
The response from Norwich was some penetrating play from Murphy which had Villa's defence in a tangle but the sparkling Davis could not be constrained. His speed, enthusiasm and no small measure of skill was evident when Villa went ahead in the 22nd minute.
On-loan Tottenham midfielder Josh Onomah put Davis clear down the right and his snappy low cross to the unmarked Hourihane was slotted home from 10 yards.
Norwich's best chance of a first-half equaliser arrived when Cameron Jerome raced clear but he was thwarted by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone racing 10 yards outside his area to tackle the striker.
Three minutes before the interval Villa Park erupted when Green increased Villa's lead with a speculative long-range shot which whistled into the top of the net. Once again it was Davis who set up Henri Lansbury, who fed the ball into the path of Green.
Norwich brought the game back to the boil on the hour with a goal from Murphy - their fifth successive goal this season scored in the second half.
But Villa restored their two-goal cushion when Hourihane's shot was deflected into the net by Harrison Reed. Canaries substitute Oliveira again gave the Canaries hope by reducing the deficit 11 minutes from the end, but a revitalised Hourihane netted his third goal with a 20-yard raking drive six minutes later.
Steve Bruce: "My hand was forced because Scott Hogan was not 100 per cent fit so I decided to play the two young boys, Keinan Davis and Andre Green. There were certainly glimpses against Norwich which shows they are good enough to play in the first team. Davis was playing against two big Germans and it was a fantastic debut from a young player who was playing non-league football a year ago.
"I'm delighted for Conor. He has only been here six months and he has found it difficult to deal with the expectations, and the same goes for Henri Lansbury. We know they are good players when we signed them from Barnsley and Nottingham Forest but we have to bring them out of their shell to perform on the big stage. That becomes difficult when it is expected. Conor will remember this Norwich game. It is not often a midfield player gets a hat-trick. He was terrific."
Daniel Farke: "It was a disappointing result. We knew it would be a hard match as Villa would be motivated as it would be a do-or-die game for them. It was our third game in six days and it was a hard struggle. We had a bad first half and Villa deserved to lead 2-0 at the interval. There were a couple of unlucky situations including a doubtful free-kick which resulted in them scoring with a deflection.
"I am happy and content with the reaction of my guys in the second half and their attitude. The reason we lost was our poor first half when we made some silly mistakes. There was a lot of pressure on us because of the stadium and Villa's aggressive attitude to win. It was difficult and the first half was perhaps the worst we have played since I became manager. The Villa result is a setback and we have to work on our defensive mistakes."