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Premier League

  • May 13, 2012
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 26803

Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa: Early Holt and Jackson strikes seal miserable end to the season for McLeish

Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa: Early Holt and Jackson strikes seal miserable end to the season for McLeish

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The Canaries eased to victory at Carrow Road and rose to 12th in the Premier League table at the end of a superb first season back in the top flight.

Norwich City capped off a superb first season back in the Premier League with a convincing 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The Canaries were in control at Carrow Road from the first minute and took an early lead when Grant Holt bundled home a free kick.

Simeon Jackson made the most of Carlos Cuellar's error to double the lead as Villa offered very little in resistance.

The away side was poor throughout and did not do the job security of their under-pressure manager, Alex McLeish, any favors.

Paul Lambert gave Grant Holt a last chance to impress England manager Roy Hodgson before the pre-Euro 2012 friendly matches, the former Nottingham Forest striker partnering Simeon Jackson in attack. Simon Lappin was handed a start at left back.

Carlos Cuellar and Emile Heskey both started in what was to be their last appearances for Villa, the duo having both announced that they will be leaving the club upon the expiry of their contracts in the summer. Stephen Warnock was preferred to Charles N'Zogbia in midfield.

Villa has endured a miserable season and it did not appear as the relief of securing Premier League survival had lifted any of the weight off of the team's shoulders. Norwich dominated the early exchanges and were quick to take advantage of the chances they carved out.

Bradley Johnson curled a free kick in from the left side which Holt bundled home – mainly with his shoulder – at the far post to give the Canaries the lead.

Villa was able to retain possession with relative ease but lacked the pace and urgency Paul Lambert's team displayed from the off. Shay Given did superbly to deny Jonny Howson when the midfielder curled a shot towards goal from 20 yards.

Given also stopped Lappin's free kick before Jackson beat him to double the Norwich lead. The Canadian striker latched on to Cuellar's poor header and tapped in the rebound from close range after his initial effort had been saved.

Elliott Bennett went close with two shots before halftime as Villa's performance deteriorated drastically, with McLeish cutting a despondent figure on the touchline.

Barry Bannan was introduced at the break as McLeish looked to inject some attacking spark into his team by switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation. The early signs were positive – Stephen Ireland was denied by John Ruddy from 20 yards before the Norwich goalkeeper did well to turn away Heskey's deflected shot.

Norwich was quick to regain its grip on the game. Ireland and Heskey were left to chase shadows as Wes Hoolahan volleyed just over the bar after Elliott Bennett's cross from the right.

The Irishman turned supplier to set up Kyle Naughton for a shot that Given saved before the goalkeeper also stopped Ryan Bennett's header.

Given had to be at his best to prevent the lively Jackson from doubling his tally after 65 minutes. Cutting inside on the edge of the box, the former Gillingham man rifled a low shot that was tipped just wide.

At the other end, Ruddy was impressively alert. Largely untested throughout, he nevertheless was sharp enough to push Agbonlahor's shot on to the post after the striker had cut inside from the left.

Elliott Bennett had proved a handful all afternoon and shot just over the crossbar on his weaker left foot following the impressive Howson's through ball as the Norwich chances continued to rain.

The Canaries' victory took them above Sunderland and Swansea to 12th in the table as they concluded a dream return to the top flight.

Villa, on the other hand, evaded relegation only on goal difference following QPR's stunning victory against Manchester City.

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