A superb performance from Gabby Agbonlahor led Villa to a 3-2 victory over Norwich at Villa Park on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
t was an epic November 5th fireworks display from the Erdington lad who hit Norwich with a hat-trick of goals. Okay. So it wasn’t exactly a hat-trick, but he only needed a vessel to turn his fierce crosses in to the goal.
The first couple of goals were full of controversy. Norwich’s manager Lambert is going to cry about Villa’s first goal because Warnock had his hands raised and the ball hit his arm during the build up to the goal. However, will he note that Villa should have had a penalty several minutes earlier for the same thing? Or, that Norwich scored off a free kick, awarded for a very soft challenge 3 minutes before?
Norwich started brightly. A shot straight at Given was dangerous, while Bent should have done better from 6 yds out, but saw his shot charged down by Ruddy in the Canaries goal.
Norwich was awarded a free kick on the edge of the box around the 25th minute. PiILKINGTON went to the opposite side of where most free kicks in thast situation are placed and saw his screaming shot go in off the post.
Villa reacted well. Agbonlahor raced past the right back, Bartlett and whipped low cross to the 6yd box, but Bent was too fancy in making his move and was on his back foot and the ball went out for a throw in. Gabby let Bent know he wasn’t happy with the striker.
Two minutes later, Gabby again tricked Bartlett, again got to the bye line then once again whipped a low cross to the 6 yd box. This time, BENT got a touch and Villa was level. Just like Sunderland's 1st goal last week was controversial, Norwich felt they should have had a foul awarded in the build up.
Another cross from the left saw Bent missing a volley completely, that was goal number 2 all the way.
Agbonlahor for at least the 3rd time, got away from the right back, this time getting rugby tackled earning Bartlett a yellow card.
That, Norwich didn’t replace Bartlett at half-time was an indication of the lack of depth the Carrow Rd side has. After 3 minutes of the second half, Lambert may have regretted not replacing him with a mannequin. A mannequin wouldn’t have made the hash of a back pass that Bartlett made, allowing AGBONLAHOR to take the ball off Ruddy’s foot and passing the ball into the empty net.
It was now cruise control time for Villa and they added a 3rd shortly after. Gabby showed up on the right of the box, turned in yet another low drive across the goal that deflected in off the well angled outside boot of Darren BENT.
It was time to introduce Jermaine Jenas for his debut and it was a wicked first touch for the Spurs loanee. Jenas wrapped his feet around a Norwich midfielder, emerged perfectly with the ball, carried it 40 or so yards down field, held the ball for an eternity, it seemed, until Gabby broke free, then hit a perfect outside of the boot pass, splitting 2 defenders. Gabby’s cross for once was blocked. However, the defender made such a hash of it that he was glad it just went for a corner.
Petrov beckoned to management that he had a hamstring problem and Ireland came on. Petrov had barely limped down the tunnel when he heard the Norwich faithful erupt in celebration. A super cross from the left and Morisson was alone on the far post, directing his header past Given.
Norwich troubled Villa, but couldn’t break them down again. Villa should have wrapped it up late on. N’Zogbia had one defender and the keeper to beat, with an unmarked Ireland to his left. Zogs, realized to late that Ireland was there and finally the space closed and the chance went begging. Even a low drive to the keeper’s left hand could well have forced a rebound into Ireland’s path.
Good performance by Villa. Dunne, Warnock and of course Gabby get special mentions N’Zogbia has a fighting spirit, but although he now seems confident in taking players on again, he never succeeded. Petrov and Herd were solid. Collins, Hutton and Given did well too.
Bent did well in the 6 yd box only, but should thank Gabby for the service. Heskey, quietly did his job again. Jenas was okay after that first bit of brilliance. But, he and Ireland look to lightweight for our team.