Libor Kozak’s first Premier League goal dealt Norwich City a disappointing defeat as Aston Villa came away from Carrow Road with a 1-0 win.
Norwich started brightly and should have took the lead from the penalty spot in the sixth minute, but Brad Guzan made a great save to keep out Robert Snodgrass’ weak spot-kick.
Kozak came on for the injured Christian Benteke midway through the first half and scored within two minutes to help Villa stop the rot of three successive defeats with all three points.
This was a home game that Norwich would have targeted for victory but it was the away side who came out of the blocks quickly. John Ruddy has to be alert to keep out Andi Weimann’s poked shot while moments later, the Austrian attacker hit the post from 12 yards after good work from Agbonlahor to cut the ball back.
The close shave awakened Norwich and the Canaries were giving a great opportunity to take the lead after just six minutes. Ciaran Clark was penalized for a handball after Ricky van Wolfswinkel nodded the ball down, but the decision seemed harsh as the Irish defender was very close to the action and couldn’t get out of the way. Villa will feel like justice was done though as Snodgrass’s penalty was poor and Guzan made a decent save to push the ball away.
Villa’s front three of Weimann, Agbonlahor and Benteke looked threatening every time they went forward throughout the first half, and the Belgian striker was unlucky to see his shot from 18 yards deflected inches wide by Ben Turner after good work by his team-mates. Just after, the Belgian won the header from a lofted corner but Ron Vlaar’s twisted volley flashed just wide to the relief of Ruddy who was nowhere near it.
Up the other end, Norwich wasted a brilliant opportunity to take the lead in the 26th minute. Leroy Fer’s great pass met the run of Russell Martin from right-back and the Scot did well to pick out van Wolfswinkel but the summer signing volleyed wide from six yards out. It was a guilt-edge chance and Norwich should have been ahead.
Villa were dealt a big blow when Benteke pulled up with a muscle injury, but his replacement lifted the mood within two minutes of coming on. Agbonlahor slid Kozak in with a nice pass and the former Lazio striker aimed his shot straight at Ruddy who made a good save from ten yards. Unfortunately for Norwich, the rebound fell for Agbonlahor who laid it on a plate for Kozak to tap in his first league goal since 9th February 2012 and his first for the Midlands club.
It was the away side who could have doubled their lead before half-time, but they found an alert Ruddy protecting the Norwich goal. Agbonlahor whipped in a cross that was aimed for Kozak, but curled all the way through towards the bottom corner and Ruddy made a great diving save to keep the score at 1-0 going into the second half.
In the second half, Norwich did their best to get back in the game but were frustrated time and time again by good defending from Paul Lambert’s side. Martin picked out Snodgrass wide right and the Scot’s drilled low cross was deflected towards his own goal by Clark, but Guzan made a miraculous save to claw the ball away from danger on the goal-line.
Villa could killed the game off with 19 minutes to go, but Clark headed wide from six yards out. It was a good corner from Leandro Bacuna and Villa’s Irish defender beat Fer in the air but the ball flew inches past the post.
There was still time for Norwich to create one more opportunity, but another great save from Guzan sealed the win for Villa with two minutes to go. Javier Garrido’s cross picked out the substitute Gary Hooper, but he failed to get clean contact on his volley and Guzan did well to drag the ball over the bar with a one-handed save.
The loss is only Norwich’s second at Carrow Road in 12 home league games, with the other time coming against Lambert’s Villa as well with the Scot beating his former team in their last three encounters. With the win and clean sheet, it was Villa’s first shut-out in 27 league games.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)