Aston Villa 2 Norwich City 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City endured more Championship away day misery with Ivo Pinto sent off in a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
Jonathan Kodjia struck in either half to condemn Alan Irvine to his first defeat since replacing Alex Neil on a temporary basis. City had plenty of chances but paid yet again for diabolical defending, with Kodjia far too sharp for the visiting backline.
Norwich's miserable afternoon was summed up when Pinto received his second yellow card, which will rule him out of the midweek trip to promotion hopefuls Huddersfield Town.
Irvine made one change with the injured Wes Hoolahan replaced by Graham Dorrans from the Norwich line up that beat Barnsley 2-0 prior to the international break. Dorrans' last start came at Reading on Boxing Day when he suffered knee ligament damage. James Maddison was included on a bench that featured a number of big-money signings including Timm Klose, Steven Naismith and Yanic Wildschut.
Villa's line up featured one-time City loanee Henri Lansbury with another Norwich old boy, Mark Bunn, on the bench. Neil Taylor was also in the hosts' starting XI for his first outing since an horrific challenge on the Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman over the international break that left the Everton defender with a broken leg.
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Cameron Jerome had the first strike inside the opening two minutes when he cashed in on hesitancy from home skipper James Chester but dragged a low shot wide of Sam Johnstone's far post.
Scott Hogan was left unmarked only to head Albert Adomah's cross over Michael McGovern's bar. Jerome was then thwarted by Johnstone after a mazy run past three Villa defenders from Alex Pritchard's pass, but the final effort lacked any real venom.
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Pritchard then cut across a long range dig that veered wide of Johnstone's top left-hand corner. City were picked off in the 25th minute when Jacob Murphy's latest wasteful turnover sprung Scott Hogan, who feed Kodjia to coolly cut back inside the last defender and guide a rising finish into the top corner from 16 yards.
Pritchard was unable to climb high enough after meeting Jacob Murphy's cross to merely head straight at Johnstone from close range in the aftermath. Michael McGovern denied Hogan in the 33rd minute with a superb parry after the January signing was afforded too much time inside the Norwich penalty area to swivel and hit.
Jerome wriggled free to collect Pritchard's slip pass only to be thwarted by the advancing Johnstone before Alex Tettey struck the follow-up against the grounded keeper.
Villa suffered an injury blow prior to the interval when the threatening Hogan limped away to be replaced by Jordan Amavi.
Dorrrans required treatment to his left ankle in the final seconds of the half before being replaced by Steven Naismith for the restart.
Jacob Murphy got to the byline in the 52nd minute but Chester cut out his low cross with Naismith lurking.
City survived a major scare just past the hour mark when Conor Hourihane's header clipped the top of the Canaries' bar after Bennett had denied Nathan Baker on his own line.
Adomah then miscued a header at the far post when Kodjia led another penetrating counter-attack. Kodjia was half a yard from a second when he poked wide Adomah's cross before Irvine made his second change of the afternoon as Wildschut replaced the ineffective Jacob Murphy.
The Dutchman injected a sense of urgency to City's labours forcing a corner Bennett headed a yard wide of the far post under pressure.
Irvine played his final card from the bench with Oliveira replacing Tettey to underlined City's desperation for points.
But Norwich's bid to spark a late onslaught was abruptly cut short when Pinto was dismissed for a second bookable offence after hauling back Amavi.
Oliveira's heavy touch squandered a superb chance for City's 10-men from Jerome's cushion ball and things got worse in the 87th minute when Bennett and McGovern failed to deal with a speculative clearance that allowed Kodija to poke into the empty net.
• Aston Villa: Johnstone, Baker, Taylor, Lansbury (Green 87), Hogan (Amavi 37), Chester, Hourihane (Gardner 69), Hutton, Jedinak, Kodjia, Adomah. Subs (not used): Bunn, Elphick, Bree, Grealish.
• Booking: Lansbury (foul on Pritchard, 51)
• Goals: Kodjia (25, 87)
• Norwich: McGovern, Pinto, Bennett, Martin, Whittaker, Tettey (Oliveira 76), Dorrans (Naismith 45), Jacob Murphy (Wildschut 71), Howson, Pritchard, Jerome. Subs: (not used): Ruddy (GK), Klose, Maddison, Josh Murphy.
• Booking: Pinto (foul on Amavi, 65)
• Sending off: Pinto (foul on Amavi, 80)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancs)
• Attendance: 32,605 (2,200 away fans)