Villa edge out Canaries
LONDON - Aston Villa survived conceding an early penalty and a first-half injury to their talismanic goalscorer Christian Benteke to give Paul Lambert a 1-0 win at Carrow Road.
Norwich winger Robert Snodgrass saw his sixth-minute spot-kick saved before the visitors lost Benteke to injury, with his replacement Libor Kosak scoring the only goal for Lambert's side.
It was a first Villa goal for towering Czech Republic forward Kosak and it gave Lambert another victory at the home of his former employers with whom he spilt so acrimoniously after guiding them to the Barclays Premier League from League One in two years.
Lambert has now won on all three of his returns to Norfolk and the Scot also saw his side keep their first clean sheet in the league since December 8.
His replacement at Norwich was Chris Hughton, who had said before the game that he was looking for a reaction from his players following defeat at Tottenham last weekend but, other than a dominant spell in the first half, they did not put in the sort of performance that warranted three points.
It was a very open first 15 minutes, starting when Andreas Weimann wriggled his way through inside the first 60 seconds but stabbed an effort straight at John Ruddy.
The Austria international again found himself in plenty of space two minutes later, this time his curling effort beat Ruddy but came back off the post, with Benteke flagged offside as he looked to tuck away the rebound.
But it was the home side who spurned the best opportunity of the frenetic opening stages when Snodgrass passed up the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot.
Nathan Redmond's deep cross was headed back across goal in towards Ricky van Wolfswinkel and struck the arm of the recalled Ciaran Clark with referee Chris Foy immediately pointing to the spot.
Snodgrass struck a hard penalty but Brad Guzan flew to his left to push the ball away and keep the game scoreless.