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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
4 May 2013
• Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 26842
G. Holt 74'
G. Agbonlahor 55', 89'
So Villa have made it to 40 points. Will the magical number be enough this season? Agbonlahor was excellent in the second-half inspiring Paul Lambert's men to victory but Norwich will be looking nervously over their shoulders following Wigan's win at West Brom.
Benteke now wins a free kick right in the corner and there is barely time to take it as Kevin Friend blows the final whistle. It finishes 2-1 to Aston Villa.
90' + 5'
Yellow CardRyan Bennett
90' + 4'
And now Villa almost make it three! Weimann gets in behind the Norwich defence and almost finds Benteke with his pull back. It's behind for a Norwich corner.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
Just wide from Holt! Brad Guzan comes rushing out of his goal and is never reaching the ball. Grant Holt beats him to it and should really bury the header, but it falls a yard wide. So close to 2-2.
90' + 2'
Norwich are readying Simeon Jackson in an effort to get back into this one. It looks like too little too late though from Chris Hughton with just two minutes left.
Cue wild celebrations from Paul Lambert as Agbonlahor scores the goal which should, SHOULD, keep Villa up. It is bad defending from Bassong to allow the Villa man in, but a smart finish to make it 2-1.
GOAL!!! Agbonlahor has surely snatched the winner!
Kamara wins the flick on and it falls to Holt, the Englishman can only fire wide though. Clear example of Chris Hughton's chance in tactics there with one big man winning the flick through to an even bigger man.
Not many chances in the closing stages here. Both teams a little cagy in their approach, unwilling to commit too many men in attack for dear of conceding a second. Norwich in particular wary of the counter-attacking threat of Villa's front three.
Just as I say that Wigan get in front against West Brom. Suddenly things look a lot different at the foot of the table and a win would be vey, very handy for these two.
The Norwich fans are really getting behind their team now and seem desperate for their side to grab the winner. With Wigan struggling against West Brom in their game at the Hawthorns a draw would be a decent result for both teams. A win though, well that would be even better.
Villa have now conceded 8 penalties this season; the most in the league. One table I'm sure the Villa fans will not be too pleased to top.
Brett Holman is on for Villa. We haven't seen much from the Australian summer signing in recent weeks after a bright start to the season. Can he make the difference today and inspire Villa to a much needed three points?
And suddenly it is Norwich who look the likelier of the two teams to grab a goal. Who would have thought it? The arrival of Kamara seems to have revitalised the home side who now have the fans willing them towards a winning goal.
Holt has finally given the home fans something to cheer by slamming home the penalty to equalise here against Villa. It was a poor one to give away from Bennett. Fair to say a lack of experience showing once again in the Villa defence? Yes, yes it is.
Penalty GoalGrant Holt
GOAL!!! Grant Holt scores the penalty!
Penalty! Bennett brings down Snodgrass in the area and it is a clear penalty.
The home fans are unhappy with the lack of a final ball from Norwich here. They're even less happy with the removal of Wes Hoolahan who is replaced by Kei Kamara. Clear chance of emphasis from Norwich here who now have the two big men up top. How Cliché.
Handbags on the halfway line! Carrow Road has certainly livened up in this second-half. The Villa players take issue with an(other) elbow from Grant Holt, Benteke in particular who grabs the throat of Bassong. Lucky to escape with just a yellow there the Belgian.
Yellow CardChristian Benteke
So close from Agbonlahor! The speedy forward looks well up for this one now and is unlucky to see his shot roll just wide of the post after Benteke tees him up on the edge of the box. Norwich out of this one at the moment.
Marked improvement in the second-half of this game. Plenty of chances for Villa especially, the latest coming from Fabien Delph who turns nicely and finds some space on the edge of the box. His shot is wayward though with others better placed.
Fantastic counter-attack from Villa. Agbonlahor is released down the left and puts in a great cross towards Andy Weimann. The Villa forward can't quite keep his volley down though from point blank range. Norwich living dangerously.
Terrible header from Hoolahan as he puts a cross from the left well wide of the mark. Russell Martin was lurking behind him, seemingly much better placed to turn the ball in but Hoolahan gets there first and it's a poor effort.
Norwich need to calm down a little here. Bradley Johnson gives away a silly foul on Agbonlahor who was going nowhere. Villa could grab a second if Norwich aren't careful.
Yellow CardBradley Johnson
That's Agbonlahor's eighth of the season and it's a rare moment of quality in this match. The Norwich defence just didn't close down the Villa man and he was allowed to smash in a shot from outside the box. Perhaps Mark Bunn could have done better, perhaps Norwich should actually make attempt to make a tackle.
GOAL! Agbonlahor scorer a cracker for Aston Villa.
Yellow CardFabian Delph
Yellow card for Delph as he loses the ball and looks to make up for it with a rather rash challenge. Needless from the Villa man.
Villa win a corner but yet again it comes to nothing. Not even a challenge from the away side. Do they think they're safe following their 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland? Or just happy to take a point at this late stage of the season? Either way they just don't look up for this.
Robert Snograss is relishing the chance to run at Villa down this right hand side. Unfortunately he can't quite shake of the attentions of a tenacious Benteke and runs the ball out for a goal-kick.
Better movement from Benteke as he escapes the Norwich midfield and unleashes a shot from distance. It's a shame about the shot though which flys well wide of the target. It just hasn't been his day. Look out for his 90th minute winner.
So here we go, the players are out for the second-half. Can either of these sides grab an opener? Or are we set for another goalless 45 minutes? Let's hope not.
If Villa can hold on however it would be their first clean sheet in 20 league games. That a shocking record from the Midlands club and something that Paul Lambert really needs to address next season if he can keep his side in the Premier League.
Not the most thrilling first-half here at Carrow road. Villa have struggled to get their attackers into the game with Benteke in particular looking off the pace. Norwich are their usual, shall we say, robust, selves. Solid in defence and plenty of long balls being launched towards a bullying Grant Holt. It would be no surprise to see Holt nod in a cross from either Snodgrass or Pilkington who have been dangerous.
It comes to nothing however. The only further excitement to report is Ron Vlaar picking the ball up 30 yards out in the same area he remarkably scored from last Monday. The Villa fans urge him to shoot but his ball back into the box is poor and Norwich can clear.
And just as I say that a cross from Delph is looped up onto the top of the crossbar. Villa have a corner right at the end of this first-half...
A Villa throw is about the best opportunity they've had over the last 10 minutes but it is easily cleared by Norwich. Paul Lambert's men are seriously struggling to gain a foothold in this game.
Yet another cross from Norwich is whipped into the box. The ball finds its way to Holt through a couple of players but he looks a little surprised to see it get that far and can't keep his diving header down.
Great cross from Pilkington towards the formidable presence of Holt. It is just out of reach of the Norwich striker though and Guzan can gather comfortably, we weren't far away from an opener there though.
80% possession for Norwich over the last 5 minutes. Still nothing to show for it though and it is Villa who have the latest opportunity with Weimann testing Mark Bunn down low at his near post.
It is a poor effort though from Snodgrass. His shot cannons into the wall and the effort from the rebound is not much better. Guzan holds with ease.
Norwich still very much on top though. Snodgrass has won a free-kick just outside the Villa box after a needless tug from Bennett and the Scot will now go for goal from the set-piece...
Grant Holt is really putting himself about this afternoon. It was his challenge which led to the removal of Lowton and now he jumps with Baker, planting his studs into the youngster's leg. Nasty one from Holt.
Delph lashes a shot wide of Mark Bunn's goal. Villa struggling to create any clear-cut chances with Benteke having an off game and both wide attackers being marshaled well by the Norwich full-backs.
Matthew Lowton, Villa's ever present full-back is finally robbed of his 'every minute of every league game' status as he hobbles off to be replaced by Eric Lichaj. Leighton Baines becomes the only player to still hold this prestigious accolade.
Benteke gives away the free-kick on the half-way line and gives Norwich possession again. The Belgian has struggled to impose himself on this game following his excellent hat-trick against Sunderland last time out.
Excellent hold up play from Grant Holt as we have come to expect from the Norwich man. He wins the free-kick but Robert Snodgrass's delivery is headed straight into the arms of Brad Guzan by Russell Martin.
Norwich are clearly planning on attacking down the wings today. Plenty of balls flying in to the Aston Villa back post, perhaps in an effort to target the Villain's young full-backs. However, so far their defence is staying strong.
Yellow CardJoseph Bennett
Back down the other end Weimann cuts inside his full-back before unleashing a tame shot which is easily saved by Mark Bunn. It's not quite your typical end-to-end game but both teams are starting to fashion some chances.
Snodgrass easily heads away though and suddenly the ball is up the other end. Pilkington looks to get his cross in and there are shouts for a penalty and the ball looks to hit the arm of a Villa defender. Kevin Friend waves away the appeals.
This is better from Villa though and a longer spell of possession leads to a shot from Agbonlahor which Bassong can only deflect behind for a corner.
Norwich certainly the livelier of the two sides here. Chris Hughton's men are clearly keen to grab an early lead and finally put those fears of relegation behind them.
Norwich go up the other end and win a corner. Snodgrass fires the ball in towards the back post, but Villa clear.
Agbonlahor has Ryan Bennett one-on-one, pushes the ball past him and tries to accelerate away, but the Norwich defender makes a smart recovery challenge.
Pilkington and Martin combine well down the right flank, with the Scot releasing the winger, but his cross is straight into the arms of Guzan. Norwich looking good early on.
Snodgrass breaks down the right and whips in a cross, forcing Lowton to head behind. Bassong fouls Benteke from the resulting corner, and the danger passes.
Norwich get the match underway.
The players are making their way onto the pitch and we are just moments away from kick-off.
Today's game sees the third-worst defence come up against the third-worst attack. Villa have conceded 64 goals this season, and failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 19 outings, while only QPR (29) and Stoke (31) have scored fewer goals than Norwich's 33.
How's this for a stat: in the top five leagues in Europe, only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more goals in 2013 than Villa's Christian Benteke. He comes into today's match off the back of a hat-trick against Sunderland.
Just one point separates the two sides today, with Norwich on 38 points and Aston Villa on 37. A win for either would virtually guarantee their Premier League survival, but a loss could be disastrous. There's added spice in the form of Villans boss Paul Lambert, who left the Norfolk outfit last year in rather acrimonious circumstances.
Aston Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Delph; Sylla, Weimann, Agbonlahor; Benteke.. Subs: Given, Holman, Lichaj, Bent, Bowery, N’Zogbia, Bannan.
Norwich: Bunn; R.Martin, Bassong, R.Bennett, Garrido; Johnson, Howson, Snodgrass, Pilkington; Hoolahan; Holt. Subs: Camp; Whittaker, Jackson, Kamara, E.Bennett, Barnett, Tettey.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live play-by-play coverage of Norwich v Aston Villa. First up, here are today's line-ups for this bottom-of-the-table clash...
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