REVIEW: CITY 1-0 ASTON VILLA
NELSON Oliveira's second half strike was the difference as City showed resilience and character to deservedly beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Carrow Road.
Neither side took the initiative in a first half of few chances; the visitors looked solid across the pitch but failed to fashion any openings, while City looked more threatening in the last third but couldn't break through a much-improved Villa defence.
Martin Olsson had tested Pierluigi Gollini with a low shot from the outside the box, and Oliveira found the Italian in the way from the rebound.
Both sets of fans did their best to improve the atmopshere and drive their teams on in a second half that started in the same vein, but City wasted a clear chance on the hour mark when Robbie Brady sliced wide.
Oliveira made up for it two minutes later, though, as he scored for the third match in a row with a strike reminiscient of his own at Oakwell on Saturday - left-footed from outside the box, he swept it into the corner, leaving Gollini rooted to the spot.
Villa never truly recovered from going behind, and despite Steve Bruce throwing on some high-profile players to try and change the course of the match, it wasn't working.
City's second cleansheet in as many home matches proved crucial as their one second half goal ended up being enough for a well-earned victory, one which a vocal home crowd in the second half certainly played their part in.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Neil made two changes from the team that started away to Barnsley at the weekend.
Olsson came in at left-back, pushing Brady into a more advanced role on that flank.
Youssouf Mulumbu slotted into central midfield, with Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy the two to drop out of the matchday squad.
Alex Tettey and Steven Naismith returned among the substitutes, but there was no place for Cameron Jerome.
City's striking options may appear limited in numbers in the absence of Jerome, but Portuguese international Oliveira has stepped into his shoes with no trouble at all.
His winning goal here combined both conviction and composure as he stepped into space before curling the ball with class beyond Gollini.
Before that point, it was a nothing game in front of the television cameras - but City stamped their authority with an assured performance up to the final whistle.
WHAT IT MEANS
This was exactly what was needed - the Canaries pulled together against an upwardly-mobile Villa side to take an excellent three points.
After the bitter blow of Saturday's loss in South Yorkshire, this game represented a chance for Alex Neil's men to right those wrongs and they did it with an accomplished display.
At the end of the night's action, the three points lifted the Yellows back up to eighth in the division with Huddersfield in town on Friday night.
GOALS: Canaries: Nelson Oliveira (62)
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Pinto, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Mulumbu (Tettey 74), Dorrans; Ja. Murphy (Naismith 82), Howson (c), Brady; Oliveira (Lafferty 88). Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Martin, Hoolahan, Klose.
ASTON VILLA: Gollini; Hutton, Chester, Elphick, Amavil Westwood, Jedinak; Grealish (McCormack 73), Agbonlahor (Adomah 73), Ayew (Gestede 80); Kodjia. Subs not used: Sarkic (GK), Bacuna, Cissokho, Gardner.
REFEREE: Tim Robinson
Tickets are available on general sale for City's Sky Bet Championship game at home to Huddersfield Town on Friday night.
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