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28 December 2015

City boss on Monday's win over Villa

ALEX Neil hopes Monday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa can be the springboard for a positive second half of the season.

Jonny Howson and Dieumerci Mbokani struck at Carrow Road to settle the game in the hosts' favour, meaning Villa still haven't won since the opening day of the season.

City have now reached 20 points at the halfway point of the campaign, with another home game to come against Southampton on Saturday.

Speaking to Norwich City TV, Neil said: "The result was absolutely crucial today. The performance was always going to be secondary.

"The fact that we've hit the 20 point mark at the halfway point in the season suggests that we're bang on track to hit the 40 points.

"It's not a bad return - we'd hoped for better - but it's not a bad return. We've got a bit of work to do to help the squad in January, and I'm hoping we'll kick on from here."

Reflecting on the contest against Remi Garde's strugglers, Neil added: "I thought we were a bit apprehensive and a bit tentative, our passing wasn't as good as normal.

"Once we scored the first goal though, it settled a lot of us down. We went on and it allowed us to keep compact, hit Aston Villa on the break and thankfully we got the second goal.

"I thought the whole back four were excellent. We made a few changes to the team as well, which works in your favour or can backfire, but I was really pleased for the players."

With the build-up to the game dominated by the perceived importance of the final result, Neil reserved extra praise for his squad.

"The lads are under enormous pressure. They know what it means, not just to them, but to the fans and the club," he explained.

"To go and perform under those circumstances, they need to take a lot of credit for that."

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