Aston Villa fell to their first defeat in twelve league games as Champions Norwich City beat Dean Smith’s men 2-1 at Villa Park.
Before a vital play-off semi-final against West Bromwich Albion, Villa rested a host of players. Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham, Tyrone Mings and John McGinn were all given the day off. Alan Hutton returned to captain the side on what looks likely to be his final appearance in a Villa shirt.
Kortney Hause and Henri Lansbury also returned from injuries to start the game.
Norwich start strong
Though, with many defensive alterations, Norwich made their early pressure count. Teemu Pukki grabbed his 29th of the campaign. The Canaries – transformed this term – opened the scoring with a brilliantly worked goal in front of the Holte End.
Oriel Hernandez found space behind the defence and cut the ball back neatly for Pukki who slotted past Jed Steer.
Seven minutes later, however, Villa was back on level terms though Jonathan Kodjia.
Scoring his third goal in his last four, the Ivorian got on the end of Conor Hourihane’s free-kick to get Villa back in the game.
Villa’s shadow squad were keen to impress manager Dean Smith. They did not let themselves down despite the result. Villa carved out plenty of chances with no real end product.
It a game that was enjoyable to watch on the eye, Kodjia would have been disappointed not to double his tally. Hernandez came close also a few minutes later for Norwich. Cutting inside from the left wing, he struck the underside of the crossbar from distance.
Norwich persisted in the second period as they left the first, with Marco Vrancic finishing low and beyond Steer in the Villa goal.
Daniel Farke’s Norwich enjoyed a guard of honour at Villa Park after full time, before parading their Championship trophy. Villa will be looking to bring back their own silverware to B6 come to the end of May. Next up for Villa, a local derby in the playoff semi-finals against West Bromwich Albion.