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Lambert heaps praise on Villa

Manager Paul Lambert praised the character of his Aston Villa side after Gabriel Agbonlahor's last-minute winner beat former club Norwich 2-1 at Carrow Road to take a huge step towards Premier League survival.

Villa, who had thumped Sunderland 6-1 on Monday night, moved onto the fabled 40-point mark with a battling display to sink the Canaries, who are still looking anxiously over their shoulders, now just three points clear of the drop zone heading into the final two matches.

Following a decent first half by the home side, Villa winger Agbonlahor drilled in a superb 25-yard effort on 55 minutes. Norwich captain Grant Holt levelled from the penalty spot, but the Canaries could not hold on for a point as Agbonlahor rolled in a late winner following a quick break.

"We had to win, and it was a big effort, especially after Monday night," said Lambert, whose side are five clear of 18th-placed Wigan, albeit having played a match more.

"The character and the mental strength we showed in the second half was outstanding. We have a tough game next week (against Chelsea), but we have a lot of confidence in the side, and if we can keep building, then we will have a great future."

While Villa will now be hoping they have done enough to avoid a last-day scrap for survival when they travel to Wigan, Norwich must beat West Brom at home next weekend to avoid a nervous final outing at Manchester City.

Chris Hughton's men have struggled for consistency, winning only twice in 2013. "We are massively disappointed and frustrated," said the Norwich manager. "We kept them quiet for most of the game but conceded two poor goals.

"We are in a battle, but it is still in our hands. We have two games left, the next is at home to West Brom, so we need to dust the players down and make sure we show a lot of the good things which we did do."

Irish Independent