Stylish Norwich City sink Championship promotion hopefuls Aston Villa in 3-1 Carrow Road super show
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Josh Murphy inspired a power-packed Norwich City display to beat Steve Bruce's Aston Villa in Saturday's televised tussle.
Murphy slammed home a first half strike of pure quality and then carved open the visitors twice after the break with Dennis Srbeny opening his account for the club and James Maddison adding a third. Jack Grealish had briefly threatened to stage a comeback from the Villans but the Canaries were full-value for a seventh home league win of the season.
Daniel Farke made four changes to his starting line up from the side that capitulated 4-1 at QPR on Easter Monday. Jamal Lewis replaced James Husband with Timm Klose preferred to Christoph Zimmermann.
Alex Tettey returned with Wes Hoolahan dropping to the bench and Srbeny got the nod ahead of Nelson Oliveira.
City started on the front foot in the bright sunshine with James Maddison clipping a 25-yard free kick over after Mario Vrancic was bundled over by James Chester.
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Maddison's deflected shot shortly after triggered a rapid counter from the Villans which forced Grant Hanley to head Ahmed Elmohamady's cross behind.
Murphy shrugged off City old boy Robert Snodgrass to embark on a driving run in the 15th minute but Sam Johnstone was down quickly to grasp his low, angled shot.
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Villa's midfield gradually came into the opening period with Grealish setting the tone. Birkir Bjarnason invited Elmohamady forward but Hanley made a vital near post block.
Klose then threw himself in front of Conor Hourihane's rising shot in the 27th minute.
Former England international John Terry needed treatment for a left ankle problem initially suffered in an earlier collision with Vrancic.
Pockets of the home faithful briefly vented their frustration as Klose dwelt on the ball but the Swiss international's nuisance value created a chance for Vrancic who latched onto Maddison's whipped delivery but skied over.
City tried to up the intensity with two quick corners but Hanley and Vrancic were unable to test Johnstone.
And the hosts opened the scoring in stoppage time with thunderous curling long range effort from Murphy who cut inside from the right to guide a left-footed hit over the Villa keeper.
Norwich started on the front foot after the interval and doubled their lead with Murphy again prominent. The Canaries' flyer turned on the afterburners before rolling in Harrison Reed who chipped a ball into the unmarked Srbeny to sidefoot past Johnstone from close range.
Bruce reacted with a double change, as Lewis Grabban and Jonathan Kodja were introduced, and it was Kodja who teed up Grealish to lash a low shot through a ruck of bodies beyond Gunn in the 68th minute.
Back came City in a breathless encounter with the rampant Murphy surging forward on another counter to hold off two defenders and roll in Maddison who coolly slotted 10 yards out.
The duo combined again in the 78th minute but the diving Srbeny was inches from connecting with a low cross.
Hourihane whipped a left-footed shot over Gunn's bar from 22 yards before Farke looked to shore things up with Zimmermann replacing Maddison.
Oliveira and Hoolahan were also introduced and the duo combined superbly in the 86th minute but the Irishman rifled over his half-volley.
Pinto was then denied by Johnstone in stoppage time with Norwich smelling a fourth before Oliveira was thwarted by the Villa keeper in the final act.
• Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto, Hanley, Klose, Lewis, Reed (Hoolahan 83), Tettey, Vrancic, Maddison (Zimmermann 80), Murphy, Srbeny (Oliveira 85). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Husband, Leitner, Edwards.
• Goals: Murphy (45+2); Srbeny (54); Maddison (72)
• Bookings: Maddison (foul on Snodgrass, 35); Reed (foul on Bjarnason, 63); Srbeny (foul on Grealish, 65); Murphy (foul on Kodja, 86)
• Aston Villa: Johnstone, Taylor, Chester, Snodgrass (Grabban 55), Hogan, Grealish, Hourihane, Bjarnason, Terry, Elmohamady, Adomah (Kodjia 55). Subs (not used): Bunn (GK), Whelan, Lansbury, Jedinak, Onomah.
• Goal: Grealish (67)
• Bookings: Hourihane (foul on Vrancic, 68); Grealish (unsporting behaviour, 82); Chester (foul on Vrancic, 90)
• Time added on: 3 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)
• Attendance: 26,278