Dean Smith’s Aston Villa fell to their fourth loss of the season after a Jordan Rhodes double secured there points for an in-form Norwich City side.
Birkir Bjarnason and the suspended John McGinn where replaced by Conor Hourihane and Glenn Whelan. They were the only alterations from a 1-0 win against Swansea on Saturday
An early spell of possession for the away side went unrewarded. As the first attack of the game saw Hourihane battle for the ball in the middle of the park. The Irishman – getting the better of Moritz Leitner – fed Jack Grealish who was clattered by German Christoph Zimmermann, and before receiving his early yellow card, Ahmed Elmohamady flew down the right flank. Using the lonely figure of Tammy Abraham in the box, the Chelsea loanee couldn’t find Albert Adomah at the far post.
The hosts, brave in and out of possession, pressed the Villa backline not allowing James Chester nor Axel Tuanzebe a moment on the ball. It was no wonder that space was afforded in behind the Norwich backline. And with right-back Alan Hutton exploiting it on the right flank, the Scot won a corner on the 18th minute.
Without the lively McGinn, his energy was replaced by Hourihane’s expert technique. The Irishman’s delivery from the subsequent corner was floated superbly into an area. Tim Krul couldn’t gather, allowing James Chester to make enough contact with the ball – nodding into an empty net.
The hosts lacked conviction and failed to penetrate the Villa backline. Despite the dominant spell of possession that the Canaries applied to a defence that managed to claim only their second clean sheet of the season on Saturday.
It was another counter attack that should’ve doubled Villa’s slender advantage before the break. Hutton again evaded young Todd Catwell on the right flank, before moving onto the byline. Cutting the ball across the box, Abraham struck across goal. With only the post denying his fourth goal in five.
Dean Smith didn’t need to make any changes at the interval. But two were forced upon him with only ten minutes played in the second period. An innocuous knee collision for Adomah and head injury to Abraham forced the two dangerous forwards off. They were replaced by Anwar El-Ghazi and Scott Hogan respectively.
Neither substitution made an impact after Norwich got level on the hour mark. Precise dead ball deliveries where a theme of the game. Emiliano Buendia swung a delivery towards Villa’s near post where Rhodes connected before Orjan Nyland.
After a poor twenty minutes, where the away side struggled to keep up with the host’s pace and intensity, Rhodes bagged another. Running across Chester once more, the Scot only needed a faint touch at the front post to squeeze past Nyland in the Villa goal.