Aston Villa 3 Norwich City 0

Last updated : 15 January 2005 By Footymad Previewer
A must-win game for Aston Villa was achieved without too much trouble over a Norwich City side still without an away win to their credit.

Villa, for a change, took full advantage of their struggling opposition to record only their second win in ten outings.

The four previous games between the two clubs had ended in draws but this was never likely to happen on this occasion following first-half goals from two homegrown products, Liam Ridgewell and Lee Hendrie.

Despite some sterling work from Darren Huckerby and Mattias Jonson, the Canaries were never on song as Villa recorded their most comfortable win of the season.

Villa's recent goalscoring problems were quickly evident following an exciting movement which culminated in Juan Pablo Angel setting up Carlton Cole, only for the on-loan striker from Chelsea to hammer his low shot wide of the upright.

A pleasing feature from Norwich was the promising Premiership baptism of recent £3million recruit, Dean Ashton from Crewe. There were some neat touches and he had one opportunity when he fired just wide from a good position.

But it was Villa who steamed into the lead when a Nobby Solano free-kick was headed home by Ridgewell for his first ever senior goal for the Midlands club.

Norwich, battling for Premiership survival, were off the pace and seemingly lacked real conviction to boost an attack which has scored just six goals in 12 away games.

There was also justified criticism in regard to Villa's recent indifferent form which has corresponded to the dismal record of Angel having not scored in the previous nine games.

There is little doubt that Villa's recent problems stem from Angel's inability to recapture last season's goalscoring form and this also explained why Norwich were able to remain in contention with some niggling play for the opening 30 minutes.

But the Colombian could not be criticised for his match contribution on this occasion as he set up Hendrie to increase Villa's lead in the 27th minute with a low shot on the run past the advancing Robert Green for his fifth goal of the season.

Norwich refused to be flustered and might well have reduced the deficit four minutes before the break when Ashton's shot was deflected goalwards by Ridgewell.

Only a superb reflex save by Thomas Sorensen, who flicked the ball over the bar, prevented a debut goal from the former Crewe striker.

Villa's domination was even more pronounced in the second half with Hendrie having a field day as he twice went close to adding to his first-half goal.

He was aided by astute work by Solano who again confirmed he has been an outstanding purchase for the Midlands club. The former Newcastle playmaker capped his latest display with Villa's third goal in the 76th minute when he headed home a mis-hit shot by Hendrie.

Man of the Match: Lee Hendrie - Always a live-wire and took full advantage of a Norwich side out of their class.