Norwich City 1 Aston Villa 0

Nelson Oliveira slotted Norwich City's winner against Aston Villa. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus

Nelson Oliveira slotted Norwich City's winner against Aston Villa. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Nelson Oliveira's third goal in three games sealed Norwich City's vital Championship win over Aston Villa at Carrow Road.

Oliveira curled a superb left-footed finish past Pierlugi Gollini in the 62nd minute to earn Alex Neil's squad only a second league win in the last nine games and ease the mounting pressure on the Scot.

Neil retained faith with the line up who finished Saturday's 2-1 Championship defeat at Barnsley. Youssouf Mulumbu and Martin Olsson started with Josh Murphy and Alex Pritchard dropping out of the matchday squad.

City's substitutes' bench was also bolstered by the return of fit-again trio Michael McGovern, Steven Naismith and Alex Tettey.

Cameron Jerome (back) again missed out and there was also no place in the squad for Louis Thompson (pelvis) fresh from signing a new longer term deal at Carrow Road, which was announced prior to kick-off.

Villa forward Gabby Agbonlahor made only his second start of the season. The former England international went into the game without a goal since notching against the Canaries in March 2015. Villans' boss Steve Bruce also named Norwich summer transfer target Ross McCormack on the bench.

The tension was palpable in the early exchanges with the home crowd in pensive mood after a prolonged downturn in results. Olsson attacked down the left and whipped in a cross James Chester got to just before Jacob Murphy.

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The youngster then sprung a swift counter in the 11th minute, Jonny Howson rolling in Graham Dorrans but his deflected shot spiralled over.

Alan Hutton piled through Howson in a crunching aerial collision that signalled the visitors' intent. Olsson tried a speculative long range strike that Gollini failed to hold but the young Italian smothered Oliveira's follow-up.

Ryan Bennett was caught under Jordan Ayew's drifting free kick at the opposite end but Tommy Elphick could only volley it onto the top of John Ruddy's bar.

Howson's first genuine moment of quality saw him veer around Elphick in the 42nd minute before picking out Oliveira in a congested penalty box only for an attempted back heel failing to fashion a shooting chance. The big striker tricked his way past Ashley Westwood on the restart but Mulumbu had not anticipated Howson's dummy and miscued a dig from the edge of the area well wide.

The subdued City home support found their voice approaching the hour mark with the decibels levels rising a notch higher as the hosts strived for a breakthrough.

Brady horribly sliced a chance wide 12 yards out after Oliveira and Howson had sprung a counter - albeit the Irishman was coming under pressure from a desperate Hutton sliding challenge.

Oliveira, however, coolly rolled Norwich in front in the 62nd minute when he cleverly bent a left-footed shot from 22 yards around Elphick and beyond the stationary Gollini.

The toiling Mulumbu made way for Tettey in the 74th minute seconds after McCormack made his entrance for Agbonlahor.

McCormack dragged a free kick wide of Ruddy's right-hand post then Murphy's swerving effort at the other end slammed into the advertising boards. Oliveira departed to a standing ovation for Kyle Lafferty as City survived a a tense final few seconds to hold on.

• Norwich: Ruddy, Pinto, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson, Mulumbu (Tettey 74), Dorrans, Jacob Murphy (Naismith 82), Howson, Brady, Oliveira (Lafferty 88). Subs (not used): McGovern, Martin, Hoolahan, Klose.

• Booking: Brady (ungentlemanly conduct, 26)

• Goal: Oliveira (62)

• Aston Villa: Gollini, Elphick, Ayew (Gestede 80), Agbonlahor (Adoma 73), Chester, Westwood, Hutton, Amavai, Jedinak, Kodjia, Grealish (McCormack 73). Subs (not used): Sarkic, Bacuna, Gardner, Cissokho.

• Time added on: 1 minute / 3 minutes

• Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)

• Attendance: 26,044