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March 2, 2014
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: A. Taylor
• Attendance: 30303
C. Benteke 25', 27'
L. Bacuna 37'
S. Bassong 41' (own goal)
W. Hoolahan 3'
I'm Alex Moretto, and I'd like to thank you all for joining me here today at Villa Park. Good bye!
FULL-TIME: ASTON VILLA 4-1 NORWICH CITY. The first half told the whole story. A scoring outburst from the hosts put the game out of reach at half-time as both teams played out the final 45 minutes content on looking ahead to next week. Aston Villa moves into 11th place with the victory, seven points clear of the relegation zone, while Norwich sit 15th, just four points up on Sunderland who have two less games played.
90' + 2'
Full-time whistle blows and Norwich have been put out of their misery here at Villa Park.
90' + 1'
Into the first minute of added time, and Norwich are beginning to pile up the fouls as frustration sets in.
Some great goalkeeping from Ruddy! It's hardly a consolation for Norwich, but he prevents what could have been a fifth goal for the hosts. A long ball is played over the top for Agbonlahor, but Ruddy charges more than 10 yards out of his box and slides in to clear the ball. Smart stuff from Ruddy.
Yellow Card Johan Elmander
Elmander is shown a yellow now as he goes in very late on Westwood. Dangerous challenge there, as the substitute shows his frustrations with that needless tackle.
STAT ATTACK: The 12 league goals Villa have scored at home this season are tied with Cardiff City for fewest in the Premier League.
Norwich finally come close to scoring, as Gary Hooper gets their best chance of the second half with just over five minutes to play. The striker beats the offside trap and chests the ball down well, but can't beat a sprawling Brad Guzann, who gets down and gets his hand to the ball. Difficult stop for the American, who adds to the Canaries' frustrations.
The loudest applause of the second half comes in the 81st minute, as Grant Holt enters the game for Villa. The striker scored 78 goals in 167 appearances for Norwich City in all competitions, and faces his former team for the first time since his summer departure.
Norwich attempt to switch the play, but are having no success working down the flanks. Their lack of speed and technical ability on the wings without Redmond is forcing them to build through the middle. It's all too predictable for Villa, who are having no problems sniffing out every wishful Canary attack.
Villa winning every single ball in the air. They're getting their heads to every corner, and winning most 50-50 balls in midfield. It's got nothing to do with a gap it quality, but rather a matter of who wants it more. Norwich have had the life sucked out of them, while Villa seem rejuvenated, bringing their poor home form to an end here today.
Horrible from Elmander. Norwich finally string together a few passes, and Martin picks out the Swede inside the box, who just swings his foot at the ball, going for the far post, but missing the target by at least ten yards.
STAT ATTACK: The four goals Aston Villa scored in the first-half was only the second time they had ever done so in a Premier League game (also v Wimbledon in Feb 1995).
Clever play now from Bradley Johnson. The midfielder is able to nutmeg Baker at the top of the box, but Vlaar is right there to back up his centre-back partner and clear the danger.
Benteke is still showing his class, fending of Tettey near the corner flag. The Belgian is run into from behind, and appears to have come out of that challenge worse for wear, clutching his back as he limps back into the field of play - hardly a welcoming sight for Villa fans.
The game has started to fizzle out as we approach the 70 minute mark. The unflattering scoreline and heavy rain have combined to rip the life from this match. Both teams seem content on playing this one out, both for very different reasons.
Nathan Redmond gives way now for Johan Elmander, as the Canaries desperately try and find a way back into this game. The substitution is met with a chorus of boos however, from the traveling fans.
STAT ATTACK: Villa haven't won since their 4-3 derby victory over West Bromwich on January 29, and have just two wins in their last 13 league fixtures.
We have a bit of a delay now as Ashley Westwood is attended to after a coming together with Bradley Johnson. After a brief moment on the sidelines, referee Anthony Taylor allows Westwood to return to the pitch, and he appears alright to carry on.
More pressure from Villa now, who win a corner. The cross in is met by Baker, but Bassong intervenes, blocking the weak header. His poor clearance finds Bacuna, but his cross is into the waiting arms of Ruddy.
It's important now for Norwich not to think of this as a 4-1 game, but rather do what they can in helping their goal differential, which could come in handy at the end of the season. So far they don't look like scoring, however, giving Villa an easy time to try and ride out this three-goal cushion through the second half.
STAT ATTACK: With the four goals Norwich allowed in the first half, they have now conceded 32 goals on their travels this season, most in the Premier League.
Free kick for Norwich now down the right, and Hoolahan delivers over the head of everyone and out for a goal kick. Nothing quite going as planned for the Canaries at the moment, who seem to be taking one step forward, two steps back on a regular basis this season.
AGBONLAHOR! It's a free header for the forward, after a perfect cross from Delph, but he slightly mistimes his jump and can't get enough behind it. Ruddy gets down to make the save and prevent further damage.
Norwich get the second half underway, and come up with a half-chance shortly after. Tettey at the top of the box fakes a shot and passes off for Hooper, but his first touch lets him down, forcing him into a little toe poke on goal as opposed to getting a clean shot off.
STAT ATTACK: Aston Villa had gone 351 minutes without a goal in league play leading up to their four goal explosion late in the first-half.
HALF-TIME: ASTON VILLA 4-1 NORWICH CITY. The hosts erupt with four goals in 16 minutes to take charge of this match at the half. Christian Benteke got it started for Villa, as his stunning first goal injected some much needed life into the hosts who followed that up with three more, sending Norwich into shock. The Canaries had a dream start to the match through Wes Hoolahan, and carried that momentum through the opening 25 minutes, when disaster struck for the visitors.
45' + 3'
Yellow Card Robert Snodgrass
45' + 1'
AGBONLAHOR! Well it's just too easy now for the hosts. This time Agbonlahor gets in behind the defence, but his shot across the face of goal goes wide of the far post.
Two minutes of added time says the assistant referee.
Benteke now whistled offside, as he got in position to attack a cross from El Ahmadi. Norwich simply have to get into the half and regroup. They are in shock at the moment, and it keeps getting worse for them.
Own Goal S. Bassong
GOOOOOOOOOAL! Unbelievable! Villa are scoring at will at the moment. Hughton's men are stunned. Bertrand splits the Norwich defence with a wonderful through ball for Fabian Delph, who sends a low cross in for Agbonlahor. Bassong tries to intervene, but turns it into his own net!
Villa have a real swagger to their play now! Norwich are still wondering how this got away from them, but they've shown their ability to break down the hosts, so they can't call it quits just yet.
Assist Andreas Weimann
Goal Leandro Bacuna
GOOOOOOOOOOAL! It might be all done and dusted now! Classic Villa counter attacking, as Agbonlahor picks out Weimann, who sends in Bacuna. The Dutchman cuts to his left, eludes Bertrand, and places his left-footed shot just inside the far post. Splendid finish from the full-back!
HOOLAHAN! Brilliant stuff from the midfielder, and that's much more like it from the visitors. Hoolahan plays a one-two with Hooper, and gets behind the defence. Guzan makes the initial save, and then turns aside the rebound again! Great goalkeeping from the American.
Unbelievable turnaround from the hosts, who hardly posed a threat through the opening 25 minutes. The goals have brought the team and fans back to life, as they're playing with a certain buzz about them now, and Norwich are having a hard time clawing their way back into this match.
Yellow Card Alexander Tettey
Yellow card now for Alexander Tettey who went in recklessly on Nathan Baker in midfield, catching him in the chest with his cleats. The Norwegian shows remorse, perhaps earning the referees sympathy and narrowly avoiding a sending off. Horrible five minutes from the visitors, who seem to have completely lost control of this game.
Assist Ashley Westwood
Goal Christian Benteke
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Unbelievable turnaround from the from the hosts, and again it's Christian Benteke! The Belgian simply overpowers Bassong and heads in the corner. Poor defending from the visitors, standing and staring as Benteke charged in to head home.
The goal has brought the Villa faithful back to their feet. Norwich seem shell-shocked. The hosts win a corner, and the visitors are reeling here!
Assist Ron Vlaar
Goal Christian Benteke
GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAL! It's an absolute stunner from Christian Benteke, out of absolutely nothing! Ron Vlaar lofts a ball forward for the Belgian, who chests down and unleashes a bicycle kick into the top corner. Brilliant stuff from the striker!
Norwich push the play forward now, and pass it around well around the Villa box. Hoolahan cuts at the top of the box, causing two defenders to slip, and passing off for Snodgrass on the right. The Scotsman's cross is poor, but it eventually falls for Redmond who makes sure Guzan is awake with a straightforward stop the keeper makes with ease.
STAT ATTACK: The Canaries haven't won two straight league matches this season, but can do so with a victory here today.
Possession surrendered a few times in midfield now, as neither team seems to be able to string more than a couple passes together. After a relatively lively start, the pace has slowed and it's getting sloppy here at Villa Park.
Delph tries to cross it in for Benteke, but it's cleared and Redmond starts Norwich on the break. He sends Hooper through one on one with Baker, but the defender gets the better of him, turning the chance aside.
Norwich are passing it well in the attacking half, and Villa are having trouble breaking down the visitors defence when they finally win back the ball.
Weak appeals for a penalty now, as Villa are beginning to feel the pressure, having not scored in over three matches. Agbonlahor chests down a long throw inside the box, leans on Yobo and goes to ground as the Nigerian backs off. There was no foul to be seen there, and referee Anthony Taylor saw it the same way.
Hooper causing Villa all sorts of problems early on. This time he chases down a lose ball and forces Baker into a foul. Good position for the Canaries to cross it in from the ensuing free kick, but the cross from Snodgrass is poor and Villa clear the danger.
Another great chance for Norwich! Tettey beats two Villa midfielders before sending Hooper in behind the defence. The striker tries to loft a ball to the far post, but it's just out of the reach of Redmond and behind for a goal kick.
STAT ATTACK: The Lions haven't kept a clean sheet at Villa Park since November 30, a scoreless draw against Sunderland.
Assist Gary Hooper
Goal Wesley Hoolahan
GOOOOOOOOOAAL! What a start for the visitors! Norwich move quickly on the break through Gary Hooper, who charges into the box and cuts it back for Wes Hoolahan who turns it into the empty net. No celebrations for Hoolahan, who almost joined his former manager during the winter transfer window.
Early corner for Aston Villa as the ball is headed clear from a free kick lofted into the box from about 40 yards out. The corner is weakly met at the top of the box, and Ruddy is able to collect easily.
We're underway here at Villa Park as the hosts kick off, moving from left to right, wearing their red and blue tops. Norwich are sporting their classic Canary yellow shirts.
The rain is coming down hard here in West Midlands as the players make their way out onto the pitch. It's an ugly looking day, and we'll see what effect, if any, this weather has on the game.
STAT ATTACK: Villa have lost just three of 26 home league games to Norwich (16W, 7D).
Changes: Jonas Gutierrez remains out with a calf injury, while Leroy Fer has been ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury in training. Ryan Bennett returns to the team after missing time with a thigh injury, but starts the game on the bench.
NORWICH CITY SUBS: Becchio, Bennett, Bunn, Elmander, Howson, Pilkington, Whittaker.
NORWICH CITY XI (4-5-1): Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Tettey, Hoolahan, Johnson, Redmond; Hooper.
There are no new absentees for Paul Lambert to deal with, and he has some welcome news as Ryan Bertand and Ashley Westwood have both been deemed fit and named to the starting XI.
ASTON VILLA SUBS: Albrighton, Bennett, Clark, Holt, Robinson, Steer, Sylla.
ASTON VILLA (4-3-3): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann.
The teams have been announced, so let's have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
The Canaries will be looking do avenge a 1-0 defeat in the season's reverse fixture at Carrow Road, and earn a victory over Paul Lambert for the first time since he left the club. A win would see them leap as high as 11th place (depending on results elsewhere) and move seven points clear of the relegation zone.
There will be added incentive for Paul Lambert to snatch a victory from today's match, as he looks for a fourth consecutive success against a Norwich team whom he managed from 2009-2012. The Villains have been poor at home this season, but there is still time for them to turn it around as they face four teams from the bottom half of the table at Villa Park between now and May. It starts by getting a victory here today against a Canaries team they are currently tied with on points.
Good afternoon Premiership fans around the world, and welcome to today's clash between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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