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Aston Villa vs Norwich City. Premier League.

Villa ParkAttendance41,289.

Aston Villa 1

  • C Hourihane (64th minute)

Norwich City 0

    Aston Villa 1-0 Norwich: Sub Conor Hourihane gives Villa first win in six

    Report and highlights as Villa move to within a point of Premier League safety in 18th

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    FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Aston Villa’s victory over Norwich in the Premier League

    Substitute Conor Hourihane hit a vital winner as Aston Villa picked up their first victory in six games, beating Norwich 1-0 at Villa Park.

    Both sides went close in a goalless first half as Norwich hit the bar through Sam Byram's header, while Villa's Anwar El Ghazi swept a first-time effort inches wide.

    Norwich should have gone ahead early in the second half as Byram again headed inches wide and Alex Tettey saw a shot cleared off the line by Douglas Luiz but Villa Park erupted with relief when sub Hourihane tucked home from 15 yards after fine work from Jack Grealish (64).

    Player ratings

    Aston Villa: Heaton (8); Elmohamady (7), Konsa (7), Hause (8), Targett (6); Luiz (7), Nakamba (4), Grealish (9); El Ghazi (5), Wesley (6), Trezeguet (5)

    Subs: Hourihane (8), Jota (NA), Lansbury (NA)

    Norwich: Krul (6), Aarons (7), Zimmermann (6), Hanley (6), Byram (7), Tettey (6), Trybull (6), Buendia (6), McLean (5), Cantwell (6), Pukki (7)

    Subs: Vrancic (5), Stiepermann (6), Hernandez (6)

    Man of the match: Jack Grealish

    Norwich pushed late on, with Tom Heaton saving brilliantly from sub Onel Hernandez, but Villa held on for a huge three points.

    The result means Villa move to within a point of safety in 18th, while Norwich drop to bottom place, seven points from 17th.

    How Hourihane stopped the rot

    The first half was full of intensity, but lacking in real quality. Norwich cut Villa's defence open with ease as Teemu Pukki was played through on goal, only for the forward to lose his footing and allow Villa to recover.

    Villa's struggles at set-pieces were highlighted as Emi Buendia's corner was met by Byram moments later, only for his header to hit the floor, bounce up, and hit the bar.

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    The hosts failed to register a shot on target in the first half, but did come within inches of scoring as Matt Targett's waist-height cross from the left was touched just wide by El Ghazi.

    Norwich should have been ahead before Villa scored. Tettey saw a goalbound effort cleared off the line superbly by Luiz, on the stretch under the crossbar, while Byram again got forward to direct a header across the face of goal and just wide.

    Team news

    After the 3-1 defeat by Southampton, Villa made five changes. Defenders Engels and Guilbert dropped to the bench for Elmohamady and Konsa, while the injured McGinn was replaced by Nakamba. Grealish dropped into midfield for Hourihane, meaning Trezeguet started in a front three.

    Meanwhile, Norwich were completely unchanged from the 2-1 defeat by Wolves on Saturday.

    Villa made an early sub in the second half when Hourihane replaced Marvelous Nakamba, who was not living up to his name, and the Irishman was in the right place at the right time to put the hosts ahead.

    As Grealish forced his way into the box, drawing several yellow shirts towards him, Hourihane was there to pick up the square pass and sweep home.

    Conor Hourihane gives Villa the lead
    Image: Hourihane gives Villa the lead

    There was anger from the Norwich players for a contentious throw-in award to Villa in the lead-up to the goal, with manager Daniel Farke calling it an "unbelievable mistake" after the game, though Villa boss Dean Smith said there was too large a gap between the decision and the goal for it to be a meaningful mistake.

    Norwich's big chance to equalise came through sub Hernandez, who struck low from 12 yards after Marco Stiepermann's header down, but Heaton was there to react well and get behind the fierce effort.

    Villa's late time-wasting infuriated Norwich, but the hosts would not have cared one bit as they halted a worrying slide in recent weeks.

    Norwich, meanwhile, prop up the table, with Tottenham and Manchester United to play in the coming weeks.

    What the managers said

    Aston Villa boss Dean Smith: "Getting three points is a big thing. Today I asked for three things: Application, attitude, enthusiasm, and I thought we got that. We weren't at our best, by any means, but what a result like that can do for people, and the whole place, is massive for us.

    "It was a battle, it wasn't going to be a pretty game. We tweaked the system today, to get more protection in front of the centre-halves, because I felt we give too many chances away. We gave away chances today as well! But it freed Jack Grealish up and allowed him to play more as a No 10."

    Norwich boss Daniel Farke: "I'm really proud of the team, and couldn't really ask for more from them. We were unbelievably solid, so it's tough to take. We can be proud of our bravery. It was a fantastic performance and they left their heart out on the field."

    Opta stats

    • Norwich City have played more Premier League games on Boxing Day without a victory than any other side in the competition (7 - D1 L6).
    • Jack Grealish has been directly involved in 10 goals (five goals & five assists) in 17 league appearances this season, only two short of his tally in the Championship last season when he registered 12 goal involvements in 31 games (excluding play-offs).

    What's next?

    Aston Villa now go to Watford on Saturday at 3pm in the Premier League, while Norwich host Tottenham on Saturday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 5.30pm.

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