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Match Reports

Aston Villa v Norwich City

6 February 2016


CITY's poor Premier League form continued as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at bottom club Aston Villa.

The first half was tense but Villa went in at half-time buoyant after Joleon Lescott headed them into the lead on the stroke of the whistle from Carles Gil's free-kick.

Gabriel Agbonlahor then scored six minutes into the second half, and even though the Canaries endeavoured to get back into the game, Villa ultimately looked comfortable and held on for just their third victory of the campaign.

City made four changes from the midweek loss to Tottenham Hotspur as captain Russell Martin returned to right-back in place of Ivo Pinto. Also named in Alex Neil's eleven were Robbie Brady, Gary O'Neil and Wes Hoolahan - Matt Jarvis and Martin Olsson dropped to the bench.

Villa named former Norwich stopper Mark Bunn in goal. Remi Garde has somewhat of a striker crisis before kick-off, with leading trio Jordan Ayew, Rudi Gestede and Libor Kozak all absent, meaning Agbonlahor started in attack.

The Canaries made a positive start with Dieumerci Mbokani immediately causing headaches for the Villa defenders, but the hosts grew into it and Agbonlahor steered Leandro Bacuna's cross wide of Declan Rudd's post with a backheel.

Mbokani stung Bunn's glove with a fierce drive from 20 yards in City's first effort on target, and later in the half Sebastien Bassong headed Russell Martin's cross into the ground before seeing it drift over after a tidy move.

Clearcut chances were few and far between in a nervous game, and with the half-time whistle approaching it looked as though the deadlock was the remain unbroken.

However, in the final minute of the half, after Micah Richards was fouled on the right, Gil delivered a free-kick and Lescott peeled away at the back post to turn a header home, despite Rudd getting a touch.

HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 1-0 Norwich City

Six minutes after the break, the hosts took an even stronger hold on proceedings when Agbonlahor scored their second.

Jordan Veretout spotted the striker's run, and he slotted the ball easily beyond Rudd, who had come off his line but had failed to close Agbonlahor down.

It was a huge blow for Neil, who attempted to change the flow of the game by introducing Nathan Redmond and Patrick Bamford for his Canaries debut in a double change.

O'Neil then spurned the Canaries' best opportunity of the match up to then on 64 minutes - Steven Naismith found himself in space on the left to pick out the midfielder, but when free in the box he turned his shot the wrong side of the post.

Bacuna should have put the game to bed with 20 minutes left to play when he chopped inside at the back post, but his finish lacked any composure and ended up way off target.

Jarvis came on Naismith on 80 minutes, and City almost got one back when skipper Martin met Brady's deep cross, but Jores Okore was in the right place to clear away off the line.

Gil then defended Mbokani's header from Brady's corner, and it became apparent that despite City's efforts, they weren't going to anything from this game.

Their fortunes were summed up when Bunn scrambled to make a fortunate save near to the end - for the Canaries, this was their fifth league defeat in a row.

FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City

GOALS: Villans: Joleon Lescott (45), Gabriel Agbonlahor (51)

ASTON VILLA: Bunn, Richards (c) (Clark 90), Okore, Lescott, Cissokho, Bacuna, Gana, Westwood, Veretout, Gil, Agbonlahor. Subs not used: Guzan (GK), Sinclair, Richardson, Lyden, Grealish, Davis.

NORWICH CITY: Rudd; Martin (c), Klose, Bassong, Brady; Howson, Mulumbu (Redmond 56), O'Neil, Hoolahan (Bamford 56); Naismith (Jarvis 80); Mbokani. Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Jerome, Olsson, Pinto.

REFEREE: Martin Atkinson


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