Aston Villa boss Lambert predicts greatness for Benteke

The Belgium striker score two quick-fire goals as Villains came from behind to beat Norwich at Villa Park, and Lambert says he can become one of the very best
By Sam Lee at Villa Park

Paul Lambert says Christian Benteke can become one of the best in the world after he helped Aston Villa secure a 4-1 win over Norwich City.

Villa fell behind to an early Wes Hoolahan goal at Villa Park, but fought back to record a resounding victory in the battle against relegation from the Premier League.

The home fans showed their displeasure during the early stages but were soon appeased as their side roared back into the match, led by Benteke's double.

And Lambert says while there is a long way to go, the Belgian is on the road to becoming one of the world's best.

"As soon as he scored that goal, his flicks, his chest control... there's no doubt when he's at it he's an absolute handful," he told reporters. "If he does this season what he did in the second half of last season we'll have an absolute world-class player on our hands.

"He's in his second season in England, and I think people forget his age, but he's got the ability to be a top player. He's got a long way to go but his two goals today were fantastic. Christian's goals were great individual goals, his first was brilliant."

Lambert also says his players are not performing anywhere near the level he expects, but believes his group of young players are moving in the right direction.

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"We're miles from where we want to be, but slowly but surely we're getting there. If they keep going their careers will keep moving forwards," he told reporters.

"Against Cardiff we should've won. [Goalkeeper] David Marshall was excellent, he saved everything. Against Newcastle there wasn't too much wrong. Today it all came together. The performances were pretty decent, we just had to convert the chances.

"I knew that if everything clicked we would score."

The press conferences at Villa Park were delayed by a stadium evacuation following a fire alarm, but Lambert was unmoved:  "I knew there wasn't a fire so I didn't really bother!"

It was a disappointing afternoon for Norwich, who let their early lead slip and could not keep up with Villa's pace and power on the counterattack.

And although Canaries boss Chris Hughton refused to answer questions about his future after the game, he says he can understand fans' complaints.

"I put all of my efforts into the job that I do, [losing my job] is not something that I think about," he said.

"The only way I can affect that is by getting results that we need to get. We are one of 10 teams that have had difficulties at some stage. All of my efforts and all of my thoughts go into preparing the team to get good enough results.

"I can understand [the fans]. They've seen the team start very well but within a 15-minute period they've seen them go 4-1 down. They've travelled across the country to see us get a result, so I understand."

He also admitted that the result is a "body blow" for his club, considering the good form he believes the players have shown in recent weeks.

"We weren't good enough today, that's a fact," he added. "We were well beaten in that 15-minute period. It's how you respond to it. It's difficult to take because it's not how we've been recently.

"Right at this moment it's a real body blow for us, because that's now how we've been in recent weeks. On their day these can counter attack as well as anybody, and on his day Benteke is one of the best, and we suffered from that. It's a body blow."