Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich City – Match Review

Darren Bent delivered the perfect retort to his critics scoring twice as Aston Villa won for the first time in four Premier League games seeing off a spirited Norwich side at Villa Park.

The England striker had only three goals to his name and had been heavily criticised before the visit of Paul Lamberts side but he soon silenced his detractors scoring in each half to give Villa their first win since the beginning of October. They did find themselves behind to Anthony Pilkington’s superb free kick on 25 minutes before Bent levelled proceedings on the half hour mark. Gabriel Agbonlahor put the home side ahead three minutes after the restart following a mistake from Leon Barnett with Bent making it 3-1 before Steve Morison set up a nervy finish with 13 minutes to go.┬áVilla were pushed all the way by the intrepid Canaries who refused to accept their fate once Bent had made it 3-1 in the second half. They remain in the top half of the table sitting 9th after being leapfrogged by the opponents after the defeat. In the end both sides served up an entertaining encounter that took a while to get going with the hosts starting slowly for the second week in a row. They were punished for their leisurely beginning last week at Sunderland and Pilkington should have broke the deadlock but found Shay Given equal to his long range effort. That seemed to wake Villa up and Bent should have opened the scoring after found himself through on goal only for John Ruddy to deny him a fourth goal of the season.

It proved to be costly as Pilkington struck mid-way through the first period striking a sublime free kick from 25-yards and into the top corner giving Given no hope of keeping it out. That lead lasted just five minutes with Bent making up for his earlier miss tapping home from four yards after Agbonlahor’s excellent low cross from the right. The pair were looking dangerous every time they went forward and Agbonlahor put Villa into the lead just three minutes after half time. The Birmingham born forward has been in scintillating form during the early stages of the campaign and was gifted his sixth goal of the season after Barnett’s weak back pass to Ruddy allowed him to nip in and roll the ball into an empty net. Villa continued to attack and the crucial third goal came just after the hour mark with Bent on target again side footing home following Agbonlahor’s sweeping cross from the left.

That wasn’t a signal for the visitors to shut up shop and accept defeat as they came back roaring and looking for a route back into the game. With Villa happy to rest on their laurels they were pegged back with 13 minutes to go by Morison. The Welshman did brilliantly to meet Grant Holt’s deep cross at the back post after it had deceived everyone else camped in the penalty area. Norwich threw everything at Alex McLeish’s men in the final stages but just couldn’t muster a third equaliser in a row after coming from behind to claim a point in their last two as Villa held on.