Villa earn breathing space after downing Canaries
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was a happy man after his side came back from the shock of conceding an early goal to beat Norwich City 4-1 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Christian Benteke scored twice in three minutes, the first goal a spectacular volley from the edge of the box, after Wes Hoolahan -- linked with a move to Birmingham club Villa -- gave Norwich the lead.
A rainswept Villa Park was then treated to the sight of the home side scoring two more goals before half-time -- not bad for a team that had gone three games without a goal -- as Leandro Bacuna and a Sebastien Bassong own-goal completed the scoring.
Victory saw former Norwich manager Lambert's current team move seven points clear of the relegation zone and afterwards the relieved boss said: "We've been threatening to do that over the last few weeks.
"We had a terrible start but all credit to the team for roaring back as they did.
"The lads keep on going and all the goals were fantastic. Benteke's bicycle kick was sensational but the team goal for the third was brilliant too.
"To win was important and we have to carry it on now."
For Norwich it was a case of one step forward, one step back after the promise of their 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur and this loss left the Canaries just four points above the bottom three, but having played more games than the three sides immediately beneath them.
"For 25 minutes we played very well," said Norwich manager Chris Hughton.
"We quietened the crowd and then in 15 minutes we couldn't handle them. We had a bad period and there is no coming back from 4-1 down.
Hughton added: "We are in trouble. We want to be looking up and there's always a bad feeling straight after a result like we've had today. This is the league and you're going to have some bad days. Today is a bad day for us."
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur kept their fading hopes of a Champions League place alive as Roberto Soldado scored his first goal in nine games to secure a 1-0 win at home to relegation-threatened Cardiff.
"We have been wishing it in for him," said Spurs captain Michael Dawson of Soldado's goal. "He's settled in well and we are just delighted to see him score."
Meanwhile Spurs manager Tim Sherwood said of qualifying for the Champions League: "It's a huge ask but one we have to believe in."
Defeat left Cardiff second-bottom but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: "It was a big improvement; that was a team, a team who believed in what we are doing who had a real go."
Sunday's other Premier League match saw Glenn Murray's late penalty earn Crystal Palace a point in a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Swansea after Jonathan de Guzman's early goal had put the hosts ahead.