Saturday 19 October 2019

Lambert lauds Villa on Canaries return

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

"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."

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.

Lambert added: "Gabby has been on fire for most of the season, and we have goals in us.

"I don't know if 40 points will be enough, but from everybody saying we were dead and buried, we're too young and we're not going to do it....we are now playing so well.

"We have a really tough game next week (against Chelsea), but we have a lot of confidence in the side, and if we can keep that and keep building the football club, 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 since their 10-match unbeaten run ended, winning only twice in 2013, and the Norwich boss said: "We are massively disappointed and frustrated. It was a game I don't think we deserved to lose.

"We were very good in the first half, but we knew what Villa's strengths were, and the quality they have. We kept them quiet for most of the game, but conceded two poor goals. We were a threat in the final third, but you have got to score goals, which has been difficult for us."

PA Media

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