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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Norwich City’s hopes of a trip to Wembley in the Capital One Cup ended as former manager Paul Lambert made an ultimately emphatic winning return to foggy Carrow Road with his Aston Villa side.
Three late goals, two by Villa substitute Andreas Weimann and one from Christian Benteke, decided the tie as Weimann struck after 79 and 85 minutes and Benteke in stoppage time to book the five-time trophy winners a semi-final place and end City’s 10-match unbeaten run.
Weimann’s first came soon after a brilliant save by veteran goalkeeper Shay Given had prevented City skipper Grant Holt making it 2-1, a turning point in an end-to-end contest.
The Canaries certainly had their chances, Steve Morison missing out three times and denied once by Given after giving his side a 19th-minute lead, but Villa were always cohesive and dangerous on the attack, with keeper Mark Bunn forced into a string of first-half saves.
So Villa maintained their 100 per cent League Cup record against City with five wins out of five in the competition, even if the final scoreline was harsh on their hosts.
City boss Chris Hughton, celebrating his 54th birthday, made three changes from the side that started the 4-3 Premier League win over Swansea.
Steven Whittaker (hip) and Wes Hoolahan (groin) joined Ryan Bennett and Alex Tettey on the sidelines and were replaced by Leon Barnett and Steve Morison. Javier Garrido dropped to the substitutes’ bench and was replaced at left-back by Marc Tierney.
Michael Turner was back on the bench after missing four games with a shoulder injury, while defender George Francomb was a surprise inclusion among the substitutes.
Villa boss Lambert made four changes after the 0-0 draw at home to Stoke.
The big news was a recall for previously discarded striker Darren Bent, while veteran ’keeper Shay Given and midfield pair Karim El Ahmadi and Fabian Delph were also back in the side. Ashley Westwood was missing through suspension, while ’keeper Brad Guzan plus midfielder Barry Bannan and attacker Gabby Agbonlahor were relegated to the bench.
Lambert entered the foggy arena just before kick-off to a fairly muted response with a ripple of applause from parts of the City Stand and a few boos into the bargain.
A helter-skelter first half started dramatically with City, fielding two strikers, almost ahead in the opening minute as Morison’s cross eluded Given and rebounded off the inside of the post.
In a hectic start, Villa replied as Bent broke through on the right side of the penalty area but was denied by Bunn.
There was a problem for City as Holt slipped attempting to cross from the byline and needed attention.
Morison pulled a shot across goal in the 10th minute when he should have done better, and at the other end, Delph saw a powerful effort deflected wide.
Given looked shaky as Morison charged down his clearance, then Tierney put the keeper under pressure, forcing him to concede a throw.
Barnett denied Bent with an important challenge and Bunn saved smartly from Clark from the resulting corner.
But with 19 minutes gone, City took the lead as Morison chased a flick from Bunn’s goal-kick and coolly beat Given.
Two minutes later it was all square as Bent jumped for a header and the ball dropped to Holman, who beat Bunn with a lethal half-volley from 20 yards.
Bunn had to make a fine double save to keep Norwich on terms, diving to his right to deny Lowton, then to his left to foil Benteke.
Morison had a golden chance to score a second on 31 minutes but failed to connect with a fine Snodgrass cross into the six-yard box.
Bent’s lack of match practice appeared to catch up with him when he hobbled off to be replaced by Weimann.
Bunn saved again as Holman weaved his way through and let fly in search of a second.
One minute before the interval, Given had to dive to his right to keep out Morison’s effort after a superb crossfield ball by Howson.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Aston Villa 1
Three minutes after the break, Morison headed just over the top from Snodgrass’ cross after Russell Martin’s raking pass to the winger.
Less than a minute later Morison was clean through from Holt’s pass but tried to float his shot over Given and just cleared the bar again.
Within seconds, Morison had the ball in the net with a much better finish but was flagged offside.
Then Benteke headed home for Villa from Weimann’s cross but had also strayed offside.
Given was almost in trouble again as Holt closed down his clearance kick but he could only find the side netting from a difficult angle.
Delph tripped Howson to give City a dead-ball opportunity, but Snodgrass curled the free-kick straight at Given.
Holt so nearly made it 2-1 with a header from a Snodgrass corner after 77 minutes that Given palmed on to the bar, a marvellous save to keep his side on terms.
But the breakthrough was Villa’s two minutes later as Lichaj crossed from the left and substitute Weimann sidefooted the ball home.
Immediately, Jackson replaced Morison in a bid to claw City back on terms.
It was all over after 85 minutes as a horrible mix-up at the back enabled Benteke to set up Weimann for his second goal of the night, tucking away the striker’s cross.
Pilkington fired wide as City looked to reply, before Howson was replaced by Elliott Bennett.
In stoppage time, Benteke fired in a rocket of a shot to make it 4-1.
• Norwich City: Bunn; Russell Martin, Barnett, Bassong, Tierney; Snodgrass, Howson (Elliott Bennett, 87), Johnson, Pilkington; Holt, Morison (Jackson, 80). Subs (not used): Rudd, Francomb, Garrido, Turner, Fox.
• Aston Villa: Given; Herd, Clark, Baker; Lowton, El Ahmadi, Delph, Lichaj; Holman (N’Zogbia, 73); Bent (Weimann, 36), Benteke.
Subs (not used): Guzan, Williams, Bannan, Albrighton, Agbonlahor.
• Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
• Attendance: 26,142
• Goals: City: Morison (19). Villa: Holman (21), Weimann (79, 85), Benteke (90)