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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 19:30 GMT
Aston Villa 3-0 Norwich
Lee Hendrie (left) celebrates Villa's first with goalscorer Liam Ridgewell
Liam Ridgewell's first goal for Aston Villa set David O'Leary's side on their way to a comfortable win over Norwich.

Nolberto Solano's pinpoint cross was headed in by the 20-year-old Ridgewell to give Villa a ninth-minute lead.

Lee Hendrie doubled the lead on 28 minutes with a low drive past Robert Green after Juan Pablo Angel's pass, before Solano's header made it three.

Debutant Dean Ashton had Norwich's best effort with his deflected shot forcing a fine save from Thomas Sorensen.

Villa were on top from the start in a rather one-sided encounter, and Carlton Cole almost put them ahead on four minutes, but his shot went just wide.

But the home side did not have long to wait to break the deadlock.

Ridgewell's header gave Green no chance, although it may have taken a slight deflection off Norwich defender Craig Fleming.

Ashton's first sight of goal as a Norwich player came on 16 minutes, but the former Crewe man rather sliced his shot, sending it wide of Sorensen's goal.

Angel had a great chance to double Villa's lead after another excellent ball in from Solano, but Green was well-placed to save the Colombian's downward header.

Green also showed good positioning to thwart Hendrie after the midfielder drilled in a low shot mid-way through the half.

To their credit, Norwich looked solid after the early goal, but they found themselves two behind on 28 minutes, as Hendrie sent a good finish past Green after Angel sent him clear.

Villa looked comfortable, but midfielder Mathieu Berson almost gifted Norwich a lifeline before half-time.

The Frenchman was caught in possession by Ashton, whose shot deflected off goalscorer Ridgewell and was then brilliantly tipped over by Sorensen.

Green was called into action within minutes of the restart, flinging himself to his right to keep out Hendrie's right-foot effort after the midfielder played a one-two with Solano.

The industrious Solano then hit a volley straight at Green as Villa pressed to make the game safe.

Villa were not having it all their own way, however, and they were thankful to Sorensen for cutting out Mattias Jonson's cross following a dangerous Norwich break.

But the home side were undoubtedly posing the greater threat, and Cole saw a glancing header drift wide, while a Hendrie drive shaved the outside of the post.

Norwich were restricted to long shots, and Damien Francis saw two efforts fly off target, while at the other end Green had to be alert to tip a looping header from Angel over the bar.

Villa's seemingly-inevitable third goal finally arrived in the 76th minute as the unmarked Solano nodded in Hendrie's cross.

Norwich saw an Ashton half-chance go begging in the closing stages, but it could have been four for Villa as Angel curled a last-minute shot just over.


Aston Villa: Sorensen, Delaney, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel,Solano (Davis 82), Berson (Hitzlsperger 77), Hendrie, Barry,Angel, Cole (Luke Moore 74).
Subs Not Used: Postma, De la Cruz.

Goals: Ridgewell 9, Hendrie 27, Solano 76.

Norwich: Green, Edworthy, Fleming, Doherty, Drury, Jonson,Mulryne (McKenzie 45), Francis, Brennan, Huckerby (Crow 89),Ashton (Jarvis 85).
Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Shackell.

Att: 38,172.

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Aston Villa boss David O'Leary


Interview: Norwich manager Nigel Worthington


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