Villa thrash Norwich to reach semi-finals
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert enjoyed a memorable return to Norwich as his side romped into the League Cup semi-finals with a 4-1 win at Carrow Road on Tuesday.
Lambert, who quit the Canaries to take charge at Villa in an acrimonious close-season move, received a mixed reception from the Norwich fans on his first visit back to the club he led from League One to the Premier League.
But he could afford to ignore the jeers as two late goals from Andreas Weimann sealed victory for Villa after Brett Holman cancelled out Steve Morison’s opener for the hosts.
Christian Benteke bagged Villa’s fourth goal in stoppage time as the visitors moved a step closer to a Wembley final.
Lambert had finally restored England striker Darren Bent to his starting line-up for the first time since October, but it was Norwich who made the brighter start.
Chris Hughton’s team, who were defending an unbeaten 10-game run, almost snatched the lead inside five minutes when Morison’s effort came back off the post.
After Bent was unable to beat Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn from a promising position, the hosts took the lead on 19 minutes when Morison showed great composure to lift his shot over Shay Given.
But Australian midfielder Holman equalised two minutes later with a brilliant long-range strike.
Bent’s return lasted only 34 minutes as the former Tottenham star signalled to the bench clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Weimann.
Wales forward Morison fired wide early in the second half and then had a goal disalllowed for offside, while Given produced a fine save to palm away a header from Grant Holt following a corner.
Villa made the most of those escapes in the 79th minute when Eric Lichaj’s cross found Weimann at the far post and he slotted home.
Lambert’s men secured their semi-final place after a mix-up in the Norwich defence saw the ball drop to Benteke, who squared for Weimann to finish in the 85th minute.
And there was still time for Benteke to smash in an excellent strike in stoppage-time for the fourth.