Norwich rounded off their impressive season with a comfortable win at home to Aston Villa.
First half goals from Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson ensured the Canaries ended the season on a high whilst piling more pressure on under-fire Villa boss Alex McLeish.
The Scot has experienced a torrid first season in charge, with Villa surviving the drop by the skin of their teeth. In contrast Paul Lambert has guided his Canaries to a very respectable mid table finish despite being favourites for relegation at the start of the season.
Grant Holt’s 17th goal of the season opened the scoring boosting his chances of an unlikely England call up. With 8 minutes on the clock Holt opened the scoring bundling the ball home. Bradley Johnson’s free-kick was met by Holt at the back post and the ball luckily bounced off the strikers shoulder and past Shay Given in the Villa goal.
Norwich continued to dominate and Jonny Howson tested Given from 20 yards, but the midfielders strike was well saved.
The home side soon doubled their lead. A Carlos Cuellar mistake allowed Jackson to score his 2nd goal of the season. A long ball forward from Kyle Naughton forced Cuellar to head the ball across the six yard box in to the path of the unmarked Jackson. Given did his best to block Jackson’s first attempt but the ball ricocheted kindly for the striker allowing him to tap the ball in to an empty net.
Villa eventually responded mustering up their first chance on goal. American defender Eric Lichaj advanced forward and struck a low shot from the edge of the box but it was easily palmed away by Ruddy in the Norwich goal.
Just before the interval Norwich should have had a penalty. Howson was halted by Cuellar right on the corner of the box but referee Nigel Atkinson awarded a free-kick when replays suggested the foul took place inside the box.
With Alex McLeish’s half time team talk ringing in the Villa players ears the away side had a dominant spell. Emile Heskey forced Ruddy to save his low strike, tipping it around the post for a corner. And just moments later Stephen Ireland forced Ruddy to tip his fierce strike over the bar.
But the dominant spell did not last long. Norwich bombed forward in search of a third and Jackson came close to scoring again. His strike from 20 yards was superbly saved at full stretch by Given.
Gabriel Agbonlahor came close to ending his goal drought but his right footed strike was tipped onto the post by Ruddy and Norwich survived.
The final whistle went with both teams knowing they will be playing Premier League football next season. But the question is who will be managing Aston Villa? Alex McLeish is not wanted by the Villa fans and there is growing speculation that the Glaswegian’s Villa days are numbered.
Paul Lambert can be very proud of his side following back to back promotions the Norfolk side have more than competed in the world’s most prestigious league and deserve the credit.