Dean Smith failed to get one over his former team on Tuesday night, when Norwich lost to a 2-0 loss at home to Aston Villa.
Steven Gerrard replaced Smith in Villa Park’s hot seat last month and will have been pleased with how much control his side showed in a comfortable victory at Carrow Road.
Villa dominated from off and rarely let up. John McGinn’s dipping attempt found almost the upper corner, but Tim Krul made a great block, tipping the awkwardly curled shot past the post.
Norwich easily gave up the ball and looked nervous at the back, thanking their lucky stars for trying to make a dummy in the penalty area when he had a clear goal.
But Villa took a well-deserved lead ten minutes before half-time. Jacob Ramsey picked up a pass from Ollie Watkins on the halfway line, and without help in front of him, he drove towards the goal with cunning and aggression before shooting past the helpless Krul.
After almost hitting him from distance early, McGinn then forced Krul into another sprawling save right from a corner, with the Dutchman just about to step back over his goal in time to squeeze the ball from the line.
Norwich knew they had to improve on a pathetic performance in the first half and began applying pressure just after the break, pushing Young into a mistake that saw the ball slide back over his own goal in pace, but no one in yellow could get a telling touch.
At the other end, Emiliano Buendia caused a lot of problems for his former club, and played a beautiful field ball over to Matt Targett, who cut in and sent a half volley into the net.
Gerrard’s men continued their pressure for a second and almost found it when McGinn picked out Watkins with a deep cross, but England’s striker nodded straight at Krul’s feet.
Norwich’s first half of the match came in the 72nd minute when Billy Gilmour struck in a free kick that was nodded by Adam Idah, but the Irishman’s header was weak and easy to handle by Emiliano Martinez.
Villa put the game in doubt for the last five minutes. Carney Chukwuemeka, fresh after being brought in as a substitute, easily withdrew the challenge from Gilmour and played a lovely ball over the goal for Watkins to push home and put the game to bed.
At least Williams was not weak in the fight / Stephen Pond / GettyImages
Tim Krul (GK) – 6/10 – He kept away as much as he could. Would have been nice if he had some better defenders in front of him.
Max Aarons (RB) – 2/10 – Did not meet the challenge physically. Lightly pressed and tangled out of the game.
Ozan Kabak (CB) – 4/10 – Good for the most part but he gave Ramsey the freedom from Norfolk to the opener and was replaced with injury before the break. So overall not good.
Ben Gibson (CB) – 5/10 – Not his finest game but was not a complete fault.
Brandon Williams (LB) – 6/10 – Ran hard, tried hard and was ready for the fight. Unfortunately, that was not enough for him.
Sorensen moved further back after Kabak was rejected / James Williamson – AMA / GettyImages
Jacob Sorensen (DM) – 6/10 – Broke up the game a lot but did not spend much on the ball.
Billy Gilmour (CM) – 2/10 – Gave away the ball to Villas’ opener, was weak in the challenge for his second and failed to make the basics in midfield.
Kenny McLean (CM) – 3/10 – Like Gilmour was simply not good enough in or out of possession, that he was run over with such ease.
Cantwell was Cruel / Justin Setterfield / GettyImages
Przemyslaw Placheta (RW) – 4/10 – Tried a few tricks and tricks but failed to hold the ball.
Teemu Pukki (CF) – 3/10 – Starving for service but it’s not like he helped much to keep the ball up either.
Todd Cantwell (LW) – 1/10 – Dear oh dear. An absolute negative net for Norwich. Could not pass, could not dribble, could not track his runners. Heeled the ball out of play in the first half. Went straight down the tunnel after being subbed.
Sam Byram (DM, 45 ‘for Kabak) – 5/10 – Switched between midfielder and defensive midfielder with Sorensen. Things were a little better after he arrived but not sure he was the reason behind it.
Adam Idah (LW, 61 for Cantwell) – 2/10 – Looked out of his depth but was still not as bad as Cantwell.
Kieran Dowell (RW, 76 ‘for Placheta) – 4/10
Cash was great / Justin Setterfield / GettyImages
Emiliano Martinez (GK) – 6/10 – Nothing to do.
Matty Cash (RB) – 9/10 – Enjoyed bombing and playing more like an outsider after such a great defensive shift against Liverpool.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 7/10 – Enjoyed getting the ball out from behind. Provided another body further up the field when in possession.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 7/10 – Colossal. Norwich did not even threaten to make Ming’s life difficult.
Matt Targett (LB) – 8/10 – Would have ranked higher if his teammates picked out more of his big overlapping runs. Outstanding performance that reflects Cash.
It’s a special drive from Aston Villas Jacob Ramsey! ⚡
He puts his head down and just walks! An outburst from the midfield that his manager would have been proud of! ? pic.twitter.com/Asjajh1J5N
– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 14, 2021
Douglas Luiz (DM) – 9/10 – One of the easiest games he will ever have. In fact, Luiz had parts of the game where he would go because of how easy his job was.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – 9/10 – Always threatened to make a world champion because of his amazing technique this season, and he took one here.
John McGinn (CM) – 7/10 – Easily won the battle against compatriots Gilmour and McLean.
Watkins eventually found the net / Justin Setterfield / GettyImages
Emiliano Buendia (RW) – 9/10 – Every time he had the ball, he was a thorn in the side of Norwich. Linked well with every single teammate in a 30-yard radius.
Ollie Watkins (CF) – 8/10 – Pressed hard, took an assist (even if it was a two-yard pass followed by a 50-yard run) but looked frustrated in front of goal for most of the night – until Chukwuemeka offered him a chance he simply could not say no to. to.
Ashley Young (LW) – 5/10 – Didn’t offer too much on the ball but his positioning and awareness allowed Targett to bomb and stretch the game.
Danny Ings (CF, 60 ‘for Young) – 5/10 – Hit his head a lot with Watkins, which made it difficult for any of them to get a clear goal.
Carney Chukwuemeka (CM, 83 ‘for Buendia) – 7/10 – Provided a super assistant for Watkins.
Axel Tuanzebe (DM, 89 ‘for McGinn) – N / A
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