Sunday 25 March 2018

Garde delighted to see Agbonlahor end 'painful' goal drought

Joleon Lescott, far right, heads in Aston Villa's opener in their 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Norwich
Joleon Lescott, far right, heads in Aston Villa's opener in their 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Norwich

Aston Villa boss Remi Garde insists Gabby Agbonlahor has eased his pain after the striker ended an 11-month goal drought to beat Norwich.

The forward scored his first goal since March 2015 as Villa downed the Canaries 2-0 to move eight points from safety.

Joleon Lescott's header opened the scoring, with Villa sealing just their third Barclays Premier League win of the season, although they remain bottom.

Garde previously admitted he had a disagreement with Agbonlahor after his arrival, with the striker struggling for form and fitness, but believes the goal could breathe new life into the 29-year-old.

"Scoring was very important for him because when you are a striker and not scoring for a long time it's very painful," he said.

"We have 13 games to go and hopefully Gabby could be the one to help the team fight until the end. But it's not only about Gabby, it's about all the players around him.

"I'm pleased for him because he scored the kind of goal he likes to score. He scored brilliantly on this occasion and worked very hard for the team.

"He wasn't available (because of injury) and this was the problem. As soon as he was available he has been playing. I'm pleased he is back on track."

Agbonlahor's goal, just six minutes after the break, was his 73rd strike league strike for Villa and he is their Premier League all-time top scorer.

Villa deserved their win against drop rivals Norwich.

"I'm pleased for the players, they have been rewarded with the points," added Garde.

"For a long time we have been playing that way. When the players behave like they did, fighting together and showing a good spirit, this is the way the fans want us to be."

Norwich have now lost six straight games in all competitions and slipped into the relegation zone after Newcastle's 1-0 win over West Brom.

They have shipped 19 goals in their last six outings and rarely looked like recovering after Lescott's first-half opener.

B oss Alex Neil questioned his side's passion, with the Canaries winless since January 2.

"Not until we were 2-0 down," he said, when asked if the Canaries showed enough character.

"If you watch the Premier League they shouldn't need building up. That's motivation in itself. Nobody wants to feel the pain of relegation. I've got two promotions back-to-back and the last thing I want to do is go back.

"I've been used to winning and when you start losing it's difficult to handle. It's not nice. You want to fight, you need the players to do that. They have to show that passion.

"What we have to do is make sure we have enough bottle to respond. If you are that fragile and your confidence is hurt because you've lost a couple of games you're in the wrong game."

Press Association

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