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Match report: Villa 2-0 Norwich

FT: Villa 2-0 Norwich coverage - Full report to follow AVTV HD: Cissokho/Garde reaction
Match report: Villa 2-0 Norwich

Joleon Lescott and Gabby Agbonlahor gave Villa three welcome points at rain-lashed Villa Park as Remi Garde's side recorded their third Barclays Premier League win of the season.

Lescott opened the scoring with a header on the stroke of half-time and six minutes after the interval Agbonlahor claimed his first goal of the campaign - and the 85th of his claret-and-blue career - to secure victory.

Villa were good value for the win - and it wasn't until the closing stages that the visitors really threatened.

And when Norwich finally looked like making a fight of it, they found Lescott and Jores Okore in commanding form at the heart of the home defence.

A greasy surface made errors inevitable, although Villa created a couple of early chances which might have been more productive with a touch more fortune.

Carles Gil met Aly Cissokho's low cross from the left with a first-time shot which was blocked in the penalty area, and then Agbonlahor attempted a cheeky back heel when Leandro Bacuna whipped the ball in hard and low from the other flank, the ball flashing wide of the near post.

Norwich's first effort was a powerful 25-yard drive from Dieumerci Mbokani which Mark Bunn did well to push away, while recent signing Steven Naismith wasn't far wide with another low shot from similar distance.

There was a scare for Garde's men in the 29th minute when Mbokani climbed to meet skipper Craig Martin's centre from the right with a firm header which bounced down on to the turf and over the bar.

But just as it looked like the opening period would end goalless, Villa grabbed a welcome lead.

Gil floated a left-foot free kick from the right and Lescott climbed above Mbokani at the far post to plant a downward header past Declan Rudd.

Lescott

 

Lescott

 

Garde

 

Gabby

 

Gabby

If the goal was unexpected, it certainly had the desired effect.

Villa were in much more forceful mood immediately after the break after Agbonlahor had brought a save from Rudd in the 50th minute the striker doubled his side's advantage a minute later.

Jordan Vertout's perfectly-weighed pass sent Agbonlahor sprinting through the left channel and although Rudd raced out to narrow the angle, Villa's leading Premier League marksman stroked a low left-foot shot past the keeper from just inside the right-hand edge of the penalty area.

The home side were now in buoyant mood and on 56 minutes Bacuna volleyed wide at the far post after Cissokho had delivered a deep cross from the left.

The visitors had been lethargic since the break, although they were close to reducing the deficit in the 63rd minute, Gary O'Neil sliding to divert Naismith's pass just wide.

Then sub Nathan Redmond's hard, low cross flashed across the six yard box with no visiting player on hand to make what would have been a simple conversion.

It should have been 3-0 on 70 minutes, Veretout picking out Bacuna with a fine pass and the midfielder riding a challenge from Robbie Brady but then firing wildly over with the goal at his mercy.

There was now the prospect of a goal every time either team attacked and in the 81st minute Martin's far post header was headed over for a corner by Okore, who also sliced the ball over the bar and produced another fine headed clearance as the Canaries continued to push forward.

Villa had an amazing escape in the final minute when Lescott almost diverted Mbokani's low drive into his own net and the striker's follow-up effort was smothered by Bunn when a goal looked certain.

VILLA: Bunn; Richards, Okore, Lescott, Cissokho; Gana, Westwood; Bacuna, Veretout, Gil; Agbonlahor. Unused subs: Guzan, Clark, Sinclair, Richardson, Lyden, Grealish.

NORWICH: Rudd; Martin, Klose, Bassong, Brady; O'Neil, Mulumbu (Redmond 55); Howson, Naismith (Jarvis 80), Hoolahan (Bamford 55); Mbokani. Unused subs: Ruddy, Jerome, Olsson, Pinto.

Rob Bishop
By @robbishopavfc 6th February 2016