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Premier League

  • November 5, 2011
  • • 11:00 AM
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 35290

Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich City: Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor star to give Alex McLeish first win in four matches

Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich City: Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor star to give Alex McLeish first win in four matches

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The visitors had taken the lead through a great Anthony Pilkington free-kick but the hosts held out against a spirited Canaries's side who always looked dangerous

Aston Villa secured its first victory in four attempts after a pulsating 3-2 victory over Norwich City at Villa Park.

Two goals from Darren Bent and a Gabriel Agbonlahor goal following a poor back-pass by Leon Barnett were enough for the three points but Villa was made to work hard by a spirited Norwich side.

A superb Anthony Pilkington free-kick had given Norwich the lead and a Steve Morison goal had brought it a goal back after conceding three goals without reply, but it was unable to come from 3-1 behind for the second game running as it lost its second match in seven games.

The visitors secured the lead just before the half-an-hour mark and it was a wonderful strike from Pilkington who managed to find a way past Shay Given.

Grant Holt was tripped by Alan Hutton 20 yards out on the left and Pilkington’s strike went to the far post where Given was standing but he could not get a hand to it as it flew past him into the top corner of the net.

Villa responded well, attacking the Norwich defence in numbers, with Agbonlahor skinning Kyle Naughton down the left and sending in a great cross which Bent could not quite get on the end of.

Minutes later and a repeat performance from the winger saw Bent equalize for the home side as he nipped in ahead of Tierney to bundle the ball home and prevent Norwich from registering their first clean sheet this season and in their last 20 away matches.

It took only took a few minutes for the hosts to take the lead at the beginning of the second period.

Two weeks ago a defensive mix-up between West Brom’s Steven Reid and Ben Foster had allowed Bent to nip in and win a penalty. This time it was a Barnett back-pass which didn’t quite reach Ruddy despite his attempts to clear the ball.

Instead, Agbonlahor just beat him to the ball and after rounding the keeper, he stuck the ball in for his fifth goal of the season.

Norwich was still attacking and always looked dangerous. Barnett headed wide from a corner and Morison saw one shot saved comfortable by Given from the right.

However, their defending left a lot to be desired and they were punished again as Agbonlahor, this time from the right, was able to zip in a cross which an unmarked Bent tapped in from five yards out.

With the game looking like it was drifting towards an easy victory for Villa, the game was turned on its head once again as Norwich tried to comeback from 3-1 down twice in a row.

The architect for the goal was Holt, who turned past Stephen Ireland who had only been on for a matter of a second, before delivering a great cross to the back-post where Morison headed home to give his side hope of an unlikely draw once again.

Norwich had renewed vigor and continued to push forward but it was the home side who looked the most likely to score again with Hutton and N’Zogbia coming close.

With time running out, the visitors stuck numerous crosses into the area, but the Villa defense held strong to secure a morale boosting victory.

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