Aston Villa vs. Norwich: Final score 1-1 as Canaries strike back to earn point against ten-man Villa

Scott Heavey

Michael Turner scored late on to cancel out Christian Benteke's opener and give Norwich a more-than-deserved draw against an Aston Villa side that was reduced to ten men.

Norwich City collected a well-deserved point at Villa Park as they continued in fine form after their astonishing victory over Arsenal last week.

Canaries boss Chris Hughton will be pleased that his side are beginning to show their best form, and they started the brighter of the two teams in a game that quickly became a scrappy midfield battle. Chances were at a premium for either side, although Villa struggled to even get into the final third, let alone create a clear-cut chance.

It was a surprise, then, to see the home side take the lead. Gabriel Agbonlahor played the ball out for Joe Bennett on the left wing, whose fine cross was collected and turned home by Christian Benteke to give the hosts a lead. The rest of the half continued in a similar fashion, with misplaces chances and skied efforts the order of the day, a Grant Holt effort hitting the corner flag being indicative of the fare being served up.

After half time, however, the match burst into life and Villa almost doubled their advantage immediately, the lively Benteke getting on the end of another cross from Marc Albrighton, which John Ruddy had to be alert to keep out. Yet just as things were looking promising for the hosts, Villa suffered a terrible blow as Joe Bennett picked up a second yellow card after he blocked off his namesake Elliot Bennett. Paul Lambert's response was to switch to a more defensive system, introducing full-back Eric Lichaj in place of Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The man advantage soon allowed Norwich to get into the game, and Elliot Bennett almost equalised with a cross which Brad Guzan had to claw away at his back post to prevent it landing into the net. The visitors resorted to using the flanks more and more often, but it was some smart play from Wes Hoolahan that produced their best chance, after he played a nice one-two to get into the Villa area and force a fine save from Brad Guzan.

It was attack vs. defence now, with Villa purely focusing on holding on, and Grant Holt came close to giving his side the lead when he shrugged off two challenges and fired in a fierce effort, but Guzan was again equal to it. Yet with the Villa backline coming under increasing pressure, after Robert Snodgrass' shot was blocked, the resultant corner finally broke their resistance, Michael Turner the unlikely scorer as he squeezed the ball home from close range.

Norwich should have won all three points at the death, when a cross from the left found Ryan Bennett unmarked in the Villa area, but not realising the time he had, the forward met it first time and skied the chance. At the final whistle, boos erupted around the stadium. and Paul Lambert will have a huge amount of pressure placed on him after failing to defeat his former club. Both bosses appear to be heading in different directions, with Lambert struggling to find cohesion at Villa or give the impression that his future plan is one worth sticking to, but his opposite number Chris Hughton will be delighted. A deserved point from a good performance which, combined with last weekend's result, shows that the Canaries are more than capable of staying up this year if they can find their consistency.

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