Match Reports


MICHAEL Turner's late equaliser gave a dominant Norwich City a well deserved Barclays Premier League point against Aston Villa in a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.

Despite going behind to a Christian Benteke goal in the first half, Chris Hughton's side hit back with a superb glancing header from Turner with just over ten minutes to play - the least they deserved after bombarding the Villa goal in the second half.

Manager Hughton told Canaries Player afterwards: "Perhaps that was one that just got away. I think if you're 1-0 up and have to come back, it's always a different feeling.

"We were 1-0 down and we were chasing and chasing, and it was only right that we got the equaliser. But over the 90 minutes I thought we were the better team and perhaps deserved to win the game."

City were unchanged from their impressive result against Arsenal the previous weekend, which saw them register their first Premier League win of the season with a 1-0 victory over the Gunners.

Villa had to make changes in defence with Richard Dunne missing through injury. Paul Lambert also named England striker Darren Bent on the bench, but Agbonlahor started the game - having registered against the Canaries in Villa's 3-2 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

City had some good early possession and in the third minute they worked it out through Hoolahan to the right where Elliott Bennett was unmarked in space but unfortunately his delivery in the box was too high for Holt and Pilkington and it ran out for a throw-in.

With seven minutes gone a Canary attack was broken down and Villa pushed forward and Brett Holman tried a low shot through a crowd of players, but it lacked power and it was a comfortable save for John Ruddy.

The Canaries were passing it round nicely with Hoolahan showing some good touches to link up the play.

The best chance of the game came after 22 minutes when Holt found Hoolahan on side in the box, but the Irishman's shot was just kept out by Brad Guzan who stuck out a leg to deny the City midfielder.

Holt and Hoolahan combined again four minutes later but again Guzan prevented the Canaries taking the lead and it was to cost the visitors when just a minute later they fell behind.

Christian Benteke was found unmarked in the City box by Brett Holman, and he had time and space to pick his spot past Ruddy for 1-0 - totally against the run of play.

Villa's Joe Bennett found himself first in referee Phil Dowd's notebook after catching Elliott Bennett as he looked to break through down the right.

The hosts buoyed by the goal were looking dangerous on the break and Garrido conceded a corner having had to get an important challenge in on Benteke.

With six minutes of the half left the visitors went close again when Bennett's low ball in to the box was met by Holt sliding in but unfortunately a Villa defender got an important touch to divert it away from goal.

With no further chances Villa had the narrow advantage going into the break, disappointing after such a promising start by the Canaries. City defender Russell Martin was also nursing a knock as he left the pitch at half-time.

HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 1, Norwich City 0

City made a defensive change at the break - Russell Martin not recovering from his injury was replaced by Ryan Bennett at right-back.

An early cross in to the box saw Benteke rise at the far post but Ruddy claimed the striker's header.

A big moment in the second half came on 52 minutes when Joe Bennett was shown a red card for his second yellow card of the game. It was for another foul on Elliott Bennett, this time the left-back blocking the City man's run down the touchline.

Lambert then made a defensive change with Agbonlahor coming off for Eric Lichaj.

Hughton made a change on 63 minutes when Robert Snodgrass replaced Elliott Bennett.

It was proving a frustrating half for the Canaries with Guzan in the way again when Hoolahan managed to work himself a shooting opportunity, the American was on hand to prevent a City equaliser.

With 20 minutes of the game left both teams made a change - Darren Bent replaced Benteke for Villa and Steve Morison came on for Johnson.

City were now starting to pump balls into the Villa area pressuring the defence - Holt placing a header just over the bar.

Villa's final change came on 76 minutes, Holman replaced by Andreas Weimann.

Another great opportunity came a moment later when Grant Holt found himself one-on-one with Guzan but again the American prevented another City goal.

But City weren't to be denied when Hoolahan took control of the ball far left and he swung in a ball for Michael Turner to head home for his first goal for the Club to make it 1-1. 

It was proving a tense final few minutes with City holding possession and continuing to press but Villa still a threat on the break.

Four minutes of injury time was announced and in the first minute the Canaries carved out another chance when Morison ran down the left and delivered s ball into the box, which was cleared only to Ryan Bennett. But unfortunately the defender could only sky his effort over the bar.

There was another final chance for City when Bennett knocked on a Hoolahan cross deep into Villa's six-yard box, but Snodgrass could only knock the ball over the bar.

FULL-TIME: Aston Villa 1, Norwich City 1 

VILLA: Guzan, Vlaar (c), El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor (Lichaj 53), Albrighton, Holman (Weimann 76), Delph, Benteke (Bent 70), Bennett, Herd, Lowton.
SUBS NOT USED: Given, Ireland, Bent, Westwood, Bannan.
CITY: Ruddy, Martin (R. Bennett 46), Johnson (Morison 70), Bassong, Turner, Holt (c), Pilkington, Hoolahan, E. Bennett (Snodgrass 63), Garrido, Tettey. 
SUBS NOT USED: Rudd, Howson, Jackson, Barnett.

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