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08:15 29th May 2012

Norwich City vs Aston Villa.

FIRST HALF goals from Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson saw City end their 2011-12 Barclays Premier League campaign in style with a very comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa at Carrow Road.

Holt bundled home Bradley Johnson's deep free-kick in the 9th minute and Simeon Jackson pounced on a defensive mistake in the 21st minute to double the Canaries' advantage against a dispirited Villa.

It was a result which lifted City up to 12th in the final Premier League table, and afterwards Paul Lambert paid tribute to his side.

"It's a great achievement because none of us have really played in the Premier League before," said Lambert. "I thought they carried on where they'd left off against Arsenal. We were outstanding.

"Grant Holt's goal-scoring speaks for itself, he's been phenomenal for the three years I've been at the Club. But it's not just Grant it's everybody I've got to thank for what they've given us."

He added: "I thought John Ruddy was brilliant again, some of his saves were world-class and I was delighted with the back four, but it's unfair to single out just one player."

The game got off to a lively start with both teams probing for an opening but as so often this season, it was Holt who sparked the game to life.

First the City skipper was booked by referee Martin Atkinson in the 8th minute for failing to retreat from a free-kick, a decision which brought boos from the City faithful.

But their jeers turned to cheers just 60 seconds later as the Canaries' top scorer found the target again, bundling home Johnson's deep free-kick at the far post.

Villa had Shay Given to thank for two saves at full stretch to keep City's lead down to one, first palming away Howson's well-placed 22-yard curler and then showing equal athleticism to claw away Lappin's free-kick.

But he was left badly exposed in the 21st minute when Cuellar's poor defensive header fell into the path of Jackson and though he saved the first shot he was powerless to stop the Canadian tapping home the rebound.

Norwich were well on top at this point and went close again in the 32nd minute when Elliott Bennett drilled a low shot narrowly wide of the post. Within minutes he went closer still, forcing Given to make a smart save near the foot of his post with a 22-yard effort.

In the 40th minute Villa finally carved out their first chance of the game as Lichaj ended a great run with a low shot which Ruddy did well to turn behind.

But just before half-time Villa could count themselves a bit fortunate when the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box for a foul by Clark on Howson, with replays suggesting the offence took place inside the area.

Half-time: Norwich City 2, Aston Villa 0

Villa made a change at the interval, with Barry Bannan coming on for Chris Herd.

And the Villans made a bright start to the second period, forcing Ruddy to produce three great saves in the space of a minute - parrying Ireland's fierce shot, then turning away a Heskey header in the next attack, before again denying Ireland with a tip over the bar.

At the other end Hoolahan met Elliott Bennett's cross with a volley which flew narrowly over the bar in the 52nd minute and seven minutes later Naughton met Hoolahan's cut-back with a shot which Given saved low down.

City were getting back into their stride and Given had to be alert again to turn Jackson's neat shot on the turn around the post in the 63rd minute.

There was a flurry of substitutions with just over 20 minutes to go as first Villa brought on Gardner for Cuellar and then City made a double change, Morison and Wilbraham coming on in attack for Holt and Jackson, who left the pitch to a standing ovation.

In the 71st minute there was another quality save from Ruddy as his fingertips pushed Agbonlahor's goalbound effort on to the post and Johnson hacked it away. Meanwhile at the other end Wilbraham showed his confidence by unleashing a rising shot which flashed over the bar.

Lambert made his final change of the afternoon on 77 minutes as Crofts came on for Howson and in the 80th minute Baker replaced Warnock for the Villans.

Final Score: Norwich City 2, Aston Villa 0.

    Data provided by Press Association


    Did you know Norwich City Football Club have appeared in three Wembley cup finals?