Norwich prove too hot for Villa
Norwich signed off a successful campaign back in the Premier League with a comfortable final-day victory over Aston Villa.
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza
Last Updated: 13/05/12 6:14pm
Goals from Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson saw Norwich sign off a successful campaign back in the Premier League with a comfortable final-day victory over Aston Villa at Carrow Road.
The Canaries took the lead when Bradley Johnson's left-footed free-kick was scrambled into the back of the bet by Holt for his 15th league goal of the season in the seventh minute.
And 17 minutes later the home side doubled their lead after a mistake by Carlos Cuellar was punished by Jackson for his fifth goal of the season.
City could have extended their lead even further if not for the heroics of Shay Given in the Villa goal.
The goals made for a party atmosphere in the Norfolk sunshine - where the several thousand Villa fans sent a loud and clear message they expected better next season.
Norwich ended the season just outside the top half in 12th spot, while Villa finished in 16th spot - just two points above the relegation zone.
It was a strong start by the home side, who had been outclassed in their last two matches here by Manchester City and Liverpool.
After Holt was booked for failing to retreat at a free-kick, the Norwich captain fired the Canaries in front after eight minutes.
James Collins bundled over Jackson, 25 yards out on the right.
Bradley Johnson floated the resulting free-kick into the Villa box, where Holt got up between two defenders at the far post, the ball cannoning off his shoulder and past Shay Given.
Norwich continued to press and Jonny Howson let fly from 20 yards, with Given taking no chances as he turned the shot, which was going wide, around the post at full stretch.
The Villa goalkeeper was then let down by his static defence as Norwich went 2-0 up after 22 minutes.
A long ball forward from right-back Kyle Naughton was headed back across his own six-yard box by Carlos Cuellar, straight into the path of Jackson.
Given was out quickly to make a smart block, but the diminutive Canada striker calmly slotted the rebound into an empty net.
Norwich had a strong shout for a penalty when Jackson's cross hit Cuellar's outstretched arm - but referee Martin Atkinson saw nothing untoward and waved play on.
Villa showed little in way of attacking intent, with Norwich enjoying a spell of possession which just lacked a final telling pass.
Lambert has been touted as a potential candidate should owner Randy Lerner look to make a change at Villa Park during the summer - with both sets of fans chanting the Scotsman's name, one as a sign of appreciation and the other as a message to their board.
The visitors finally sprung to life five minutes before the break as American defender Eric Lichaj strode to the edge of the Norwich penalty area and sent in a low shot which John Ruddy palmed around the post.
Cuellar blocked Howson right on the left corner of the penalty area, with the referee giving a free-kick rather than pointing to the spot, despite replays suggesting the offense took place just inside the line.
Villa made a change for the start of the second half as midfielder Chris Herd was replaced by Barry Bannan, and they quickly had a dominant spell.
Ruddy pushed Emile Heskey's low shot around the post before tipping over Stephen Ireland's 20-yard rising drive.
Norwich, though, were soon back on the offensive themselves, with Jackson stretching the Villa backline.
After 63 minutes, the Canada striker, whose goal at Portsmouth this time last season had secured promotion back up to the top flight, sent a low, 20-yard effort goalwards, which Given turned behind at full stretch.
Villa were unfortunate not to pull a goal back when Gabriel Agbonlahor cut in from the left and his shot was touched on to the inside of the far post by Ruddy, with Russell Martin hacking the loose ball clear.Norwich were still creating chances at the other end, where substitute Aaron Wilbraham blazed over before winger Elliott Bennett did the same.
|Norwich City||Team Statistics||Aston Villa|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||5|
|12||Shots off Target||5|
|58.8||1st Half Poss.||41.2|
|61.8||2nd Half Poss.||38.2|