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13 May 2012
• Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 26803
G. Holt 8'
S. Jackson 22'
It's full time at Carrow Road and Norwich cap their season with a comfortable home win over Aston Villa. Their two first half goals after Grant Holt powerfully met a set piece at the back post and Simeon Jackson capitalised on a Carlos Cuellar error were enough to win the game. Villa enjoyed a positive opening to the second half and had chances through Stephen Ireland, but did not pose much intent in the course of a second half of which Norwich retook control. Alex McLeish has not managed to cheer up Villa supporters, from whom he still draws ire off the back of his previous tenure in charge of rivals Birmingham, after his side did not match the energy of the home side. Norwich manager Paul Lambert in contrast enjoys full support after his side comfortably surpassed expectations, and caps the season with a speech from the centre circle to the applause of the crowd.
90' + 2'
Barry Bannan hits a sweet strike from well outside the box that flies just wide of the top left corner, in the last meaningful act of the game.
As the second half has gone on the match has calmed down with Norwich frequently enjoying long spells of possession, broken up with the occasional break. Villa fans won't enjoy this.
Yellow Card Stephen Ireland
Bradley Johnson, who has covered a lot of ground for his side over the game, wins a freekick for his team outside the box after his run was curtailed by Stephen Ireland.
Shay Given puts the ball out for a left wing throw in under pressure from Norwich. The keeper has made several saves throughout the afternoon while his side have encountered less pressure as the match went on.
Steve Morison runs on to a Kyle Naughton through ball down the right flank but miscues his cross horribly.
Elliott Bennett hits wide from the left edge of the box after running across the box to cap an excellent team move which Hoolahan directed from his position between the lines.
Stephen Ireland flicks a delicate ball into the path of the onrushing Eric Lichaj, who is denied a chance to grab a goal by competant defending.
Aaron Wilbraham shoots over the bar from inside the box after good work from Wes Hoolahan.
Gabriel Agbonlahor forces Ruddy to make a spectacular save when the goalkeeper tips his shot from the left edge of the box onto the post. The Villa man is unlucky when his teammate cannot get on the end of the rebound to tap in.
Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson are replaced by Steve Morison and Aaron Wilbraham. Both the new entrants stand at well over six feet tall and will continue to pose a problem at set pieces.
The Spanish defender concludes his farewell appearance as he is taken off for midfielder Gary Gardner.
Oli Platt Live at Carrow Road: Norwich have re-asserted their control now at Carrow Road. Wes Hoolahan, Kyle Naughton, Ryan Bennett and Simeon Jackson have all missed the target or been denied by Shay Given in a frantic 10 minute spell.
Shay Given makes an excellent save from Simeon Jackson. Gabriel Agbonlahor was surrounded on the right flank and gave away possession. Wes Hoolahan then advanced up the pitch on the counter with the Norwich strikers staying wide to split the defence, and neatly passed to Jackson on the left before drifting out wide to create space for the Canadian. Jackson cut inside on his right foot before blasting a shot right towards the bottom left corner, which Given saved diving to his right at full stretch.
James Collins gets a crucial touch at the back post to head clear a right wing cross. Following the corner the ball breaks to Grant Holt on the right wing, who crosses for centre back Ryan Bennett to head into Shay Given.
Norwich enjoy another spell of possession with Wes Hoolahan drifting between the Villa lines to link the play. The move culminates in an excellent Simon Lappin delivery from the left by-line which goes all the way to Hoolahan. The Irishman cuts the ball back to right back Kyle Naughton whose powerful shot is saved by Shay Given.
John Ruddy confidently claims Barry Bannan's freekick from just beyond the centre circle.
James Collins heads clear a right wing cross.
Yellow Card Ciaran Clark
Hoolahan volleys wide at the back post after Elliott Bennett clips the ball in from the right side of the box after a good run from Bradley Johnson on the counter. It's a shame we won't see Hoolahan at the Euros, as Irland coach Giovanni Trappatoni believes the playmaker does not fit into his disciplined 4-4-2 system.
Ireland strikes the ball over the bar from the edge of the box.
Heskey forces a save from John Ruddy after getting away from his markers down the right edge of the box.
Stephen Ireland forces a good save from John Ruddy after running up the pitch to support the isolated Heskey up front before smashing a left footed effort from outside the box which Ruddy saves diving to his left.
Attacking midfielder Barry Bannan has replaced the more defensive minded Chris Herd for Aston Villa.
And the second half gets underway at Carrow Road. The home crowd cheer as Shay Given nervously appears to touch the ball out for a corner after Grant Holt beat James Collins to flick on a long ball from the Canaries' defence. The referee however calls a goal kick.
HALF-TIME: Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa. The Canaries have been on song in a first half that has seen Alex McLeish's side struggle to deal with the home side's energy and offer little going forward aside from an Eric Lichaj solo effort. Grant Holt gave Norwich the lead after barging past his markers from a freekick, and Villa have gone on to struggle at set pieces throughout, while the pace of Simeon Jackson has troubled Richard Dunne and James Collins and he was alert to capitalise on a poor header from Carlos Cuellar for a second. Elliott Bennett has been allowed to get crosses in from the right flank and Wes Hoolahan has similarly found space on several occasions, and a lacklustre Aston Villa side must improve in the second half to get something positive from the match.
Villa's James Collins gets a head on a cross inside the Canaries box but it is cleared.
Villa win possession after Lappin gives the ball away. but give it straight back again and Hoolahan combines with Howson to win a freekick after Howson is brought down just outside the box by a defender as he attempts to run on to Hoolahan's through ball. Following the freekick the ball works its way to Hoolahan who curls an effort from outside the box which is saved by Given.
Oli Platt Live at Carrow Road: Aston Villa's first chance comes from an unlikely source. After a Norwich mix-up in midfield, Emile Heskey is able to lay the ball off to left-back Eric Lichaj, who steams through the middle before forcing an excellent save from John Ruddy. That's the first bit of enterprise we've seen from any Villa player so far.
Eric Lichaj runs forward from left back after his side win possession near the centre circle and cuts inside onto his stronger right foot before hitting a well-struck low effort, which John Ruddy does well to tip wide diving to his right post.
Stephen Warnock crosses from the left flank towards Emile Heskey but Ryan Bennett heads comfortably clear.
Villa have offered next to nothing going forward and the Canaries have dominated possession in the last few minutes.
Wes Hoolahan has drifted across the park to good effect in his role behind the strikers and he plays a key role in an extended spell of possession for the Canaries. Each pass is greeted by cries of 'Ole' from the crowd as he combines with Elliott Bennett before switching the play to the other flank with a long ball. The move eventually ends when Bennett forces a corner with a shot at Given from outside the box.
The pacey Elliott Bennett, who has frequently been a source of dangerous crosses from the right wing, races up the right wing on a counter-attack but he fails to time his throughball correctly and Jackson is called offside.
Oli Platt at Carrow Road: This is surely the end of the road for Alex McLeish at Aston Villa. His side have been poor, offering no width whatsoever and simply playing the clock away when they do get possession. McLeish's sides are supposedly defensively solid but they haven't been able to cope with Norwich's energy so far.
Villa's strikers combine with Stephen Ireland to hold up Carlos Cuellar's long ball for long enought to advance up the pitch, but the move breaks down.
Simon Lappin demonstrates composure to shield the ball from Gabriel Agbonlahor as the striker attempts to run at the Canaries defence.
Norwich appeal unsuccessfully for handball after Jackson's left footed shot appears to strike the arm of a defender.
Jackson is narrowly ruled offside as he looks to run onto a through ball lauched from the right flank.
Elliott Bennett swings in a good delivery from the right flank which is headed back at the near post for Villa to again struggle to clear.
Oli Platt at Carrow Road: There was a claret smoke bomb thrown on to the pitch by an Aston Villa supporter after Simeon Jackson's goal. It's been removed now and we're back underway.
Goal Simeon Jackson
GOAL! Norwich 2 (Jackson) Aston Villa 0 Oli Platt Live at Carrow Road: Disaster for Aston Villa. Ryan Bennett's long pass is headed down by Carlos Cuellar - right into the path of Simeon Jackson. The Canadian striker sees his first effort saved by Shay Given but taps in the rebound.
Oli Platt at Carrow Road: Aston Villa have settled into a decent rhythm but their attack does not look anywhere near as potent as their Norwich counterparts. Simon Lappin, creator of the first goal, has already forced another save out of Shay Given, curling a free-kick that the goalkeeper had to turn around the post.
Lappin's freekick curls wickedly towards the near post and Given tips it out for a corner. The delivery goes all the way through the Villa defence but Russell Martin cannot connect. Villa look to have a problem with set pieces today.
Elliott Bennett wins a freekick on the right edge of the box from Eric Lichaj, out of position at left back, who does not manage to sort his feet out for a tackle.
Aston Villa enjoy a spell of possession which continues via a throw in after Emile Heskey was pressured out on the right touch line. It seems a while since the big striker was playing for England and he is now looking to impress out wide on the right and secure his future at Villa Park.
Oli Platt Live at Carrow Road: Shay Given was caught out a little for Norwich's first goal, neither claiming the cross nor getting a block to Grant Holt's 'shouldered' effort but he has redeemed himself here. Jonny Howson's curling effort from 20 yards if superbly palmed away by the Irish goalkeeper.
Wes Hoolahan loops in a cross and when it is headed clear Jonny Howson curls in an effort that Shay Given pushes out for a corner. It had looked to be going wide but the Irishman made sure for a corner, which the away side clear successfully.
GOAL! Norwich 1 (Holt) Aston Villa 0. Grant Holt powerfully jumps ahead of Chris Herd at the back post to reach Simon Lappin's freekick from the left flank. The ball goes in off his shoulder but they all count and the Canaries have an early lead.
Assist Bradley Johnson
Yellow Card Grant Holt
Oli Platt LIVE! at Carrow Road reports: Grant Holt is the first Norwich player in the book. It's a bit harsh - he stood in front of an Aston Villa free-kick and Richard Dunne booted the ball at him.
Goal Grant Holt
Elliott Bennett swings in a dangerous cross to Grant Holt. Bennett has looked for that more than once already.
Richard Dunne is fortunate after he recklessly attempts to control a long ball to Simeon Jackson for the Canadian to chest the ball into the box and fall over attempting to run on to the effort.
Stephen Ireland hits a strike wide from outside the right edge of the box.
The freekick is a good one and target man Emile Heskey almost connects.
We're off at Carrow Road. Ciaran Clark gets villa off to a good start when he wins a freekick from Jonny Howson after a driving run through the centre of the park.
Carlos Cuellar starts at right back in his last appearance in the absence of Alan Hutton after his injury last week. Oli Platt reports: There has been a very positive reception for Carlos Cuellar from the Aston Villa supporters at Carrow Road. The Spanish defender announced his departure via Twitter after the 1-1 draw against Tottenham - he will leave when his contract expires having found first team opportunities, especially in his preferred centre-back role, limited. Lots of Cuellar t-shirts and Spain flags outside the ground and plenty of applause when his name was announced in the starting XI.
Norwich again utilise a diamond with Wes Hoolahan behind strikers Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson. Of those strikers eligible for England only Wayne Rooney has scored more than Holt and it will be his last chance to impress Roy Hodgson before he chooses Euro 2012.
Aston Villa have had a trying season only securing safety with a point last week, and Oli Platt LIVE! at Carrow Road reports: The Aston Villa fans I spoke to outside the stadium adamantly believed Alex McLeish needed to be replaced during the summer. "It's been diabolical," Villa supporter Mick Brown said. "Only four wins at home this season – we've been so negative. I'd like an experienced manager to come in. Maybe today, for the last game of the season, the shackles will come off and we'll see a few goals." Norwich's Paul Lambert would be a welcome successor, his son, Richard Brown, added.
Oli Platt LIVE! at Carrow Road: I wandered around the stadium about an hour ago just in time to see Grant Holt arriving at the players' entrance. Whereas the away team coach pulls up just outside the door, the home players park 100 yards away and walk down in between two barriers lined by fans. Holt made time for every single supporter hoping for an autograph, a photo or just a chat. How many potential England strikers can you imagine doing the same?
Aston Villa: Given; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Lichaj; Herd, Clark, Ireland; Agbonlahor, Heskey, Warnock. Subs: Guzan, Bannan, Carruthers, Baker, N'Zogbia, Gardner, Delfouneso.
Norwich City: Ruddy; Naughton, Ryan Bennett, Martin, Lappin; Howson; Elliott Bennett, Johnson; Hoolahan; Holt, Jackson. Subs: Steer, Drury, Morison, Surman, Fox, Wilbraham, Crofts.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE play-by-play of Norwich v Aston Villa. I'm Arthur Virgo here to talk you through the days events.
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