Norwich 0 Aston Villa 2: Ramsey stunner secures key win for Gerrard and Co as Canaries slip deeper into relegation drama

JACOB RAMSEY’S brilliant strike set Villa on the way up to ninth and showed how the Steven Gerrard effect is more than just winning.

Villa outclassed a sorry Norwich side managed by former boss Dean Smith to make it four wins out of six since Gerrard succeeded him in charge.

And the impressive form of academy graduate Ramsey has been an added bonus for the Midlands team, as he quickly establishes himself as a new fans’ favourite.

The 20-year-old midfielder is flourishing under the guidance of one of the best to ever grace the Premier League, and at Carrow Road he scored the kind of goal that would have made his boss proud.

Ramsey ran from the halfway line before lashing a shot into the net as Norwich failed to get to grips with yet another promising young English talent making his mark.

In doing so he helped Villa expose the alarming inadequacies in the Canaries team which make saving the club from the drop a massive challenge.

The improvement in Norwich has been obvious since Smith’s arrival, though he was starting from a low base given the woeful displays under Daniel Farke.

Few would have given them a chance of being able to climb out of the bottom three before Christmas, but they went into this game knowing victory would see them draw level on points with Watford in 17th.

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Ramsey thoroughly enjoyed netting a special goal at Carrow RoadCredit: PA
Villa bounced back from their loss to Liverpool with a win over NorwichCredit: Getty

Yet instead of going on the front foot and trying to take it to Villa, Norwich were given something of a chasing from the off.

Within the opening minute Matty Cash was storming down the right to earn a corner, setting the tone for an opening 45 minutes when Gerrard’s side should really have put the game out of reach.

John McGinn sensed the vulnerability of the Canaries in the eighth minute by lashing in a dipping shot from fully 35-yards which saw Tim Krul just about scramble back his ground to tip over the bar.

Cash was a constant threat down the right with Brandon Williams not helped by Todd Cantwell offering little or nothing in the way of defensive cover in front of him.

But too often when he was released in good positions, the full-back’s delivery let him down and allowed the hosts off the hook.

Then Ben Gibson hesitated under a hopeful high ball to allow Ollie Watkins in behind him, but the defender just about recovered his ground to block the shot from eight yards.

Particularly enjoying himself was Emi Buendia, arguably looking his sharpest and most creative in a Villa shirt since his £38million club-record capture from Norwich in the summer.

Villa continued to pile forward at every opportunity and only a desperate tackle from Ozan Kabak prevented Ashley Young from the simple task of turning home Cash’s 27th minute cross.

But seven minutes later the goal that had been on the cards finally arrived, a mixture of quality from Ramsey and awful defending from Smith’s side.

Kabak sold himself by lunging in on Watkins on halfway, allowing Ramsey to collect the ball just inside the Norwich half and drive forward.

Gibson and Max Aarons still stood between the midfielder and a chance of goal, but they both stood off and allowed him into the area before striking a left-footed shot into the net.

It was decisive and brilliant from Ramsey, but quite what the Norwich defenders were up to was anyone’s guess.

The only one of the back four doing his job properly was Williams who was manfully sticking to his task despite the holes in front of him.

And only a sharp reaction and clearance from the Manchester United loanee denied Watkins a clear shot at goal from eight yards five minutes before the break.

It was abject stuff from Norwich, blown away by the pace and intensity of a Villa side clearly brimming with confidence.

Smith had clearly tucked into his players at the break given the ferocity Norwich started the second half as they clattered into challenges – with Aarons and sub Sam Byram earning bookings for their troubles.

The better pressing almost forced an unlikely equaliser on 51 minutes when Young was hurried into a shocking backpass, letting Kenny McLean clean through on goal.

But the Scotland star made a complete hash of things with just Emilano Martinez to beat, to such an extent he fell over and prodded the ball wide instead of rolling a shot past the keeper into the net.

Cantwell looked a shadow of the promising young talent of two years ago, and Smith will hardly have been impressed by him storming straight down the tunnel in a strop when he was substituted just past the hour.



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As if surprised themselves that they were not already out of sight, Norwich started to gain a foothold as Villa began to sit off and defend their slender advantage.

But though they were playing higher up the pitch, actually producing the moments of creative quality to carve out any genuine chances were few and far between.

And four minutes from time Villa finally made certain of the points, when Watkins touched home into an empty net from Carney Chukwuemeka’s fine low cross.

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