The Bennett plague is over. Return to your homes.
Aston Villa v. Norwich City at Villa Park will never be mistaken for a classic, but what we did see was excellent goalkeeping, three Bennetts — Joe, the evil one — and the home side capitulate late like they have done so often in recent years.
One wonders what Wes Hoolahan must do to garner inclusion on Ireland’s national team. The Dublin native was superb for the Canaries once again, helping his squad control play early. Boosted by last weekend’s well fought victory over Arsenal, Chris Hughton’s men were the more confident side.
And yet Villa’s Christian Benteke opened the scoring in the 26th minute, receiving a Brett Holman cross and calmly slotting the ball past John Ruddy. The goal was a product of awful defending from Sébastien Bassong and Michael Turner — their subsequent screaming fit was the highlight of the first half for yours truly.
In the name of honesty it must be said — the quality of play in the first half was rather poor. Thankfully Joe Bennett helped matters early in the second half by making a rash challenge — his second of the match — that saw the 22 year-old sent off.
Momentum swung to the Canaries. Hoolahan, Grant Holt and Robert Snodgrass began to dictate play on the right side. Brad Guzan, however, was up to the task, foiling Holt on a breakaway in the 76th minute. Guzan was in excellent form on this day.
Unfortunately for Villa supporters — this is nothing new — their team couldn’t avoid an egregious defensive lapse that has become synonymous with the Lions. Off of a corner, Hoolahan’s cross found a streaking Turner, who heading to ball off the far post and leveled the game. The audible groan at Villa Park was heard from Toronto.
Norwich may consider themselves unlucky — three points was available after Bennett’s dismissal. For Paul Lambert, well, what can you say. This campaign will be a tough slog. Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor showed flashes of chemistry early, but Darren Bent deserves a better look — 20 minute cameos aren’t enough for a goal starved club.