Norwich City 0 Aston Villa 1 match report: Libor Kozak opens his account in away win but concerns over injured Chritian Benteke

Ricky van Wolfswinkel penalty miss increases pressure on Canaries boss Chris Hughton after poor start to season

Paul Lambert’s last game as manager of Norwich City was a home win over Aston Villa in May last year; since then he has returned three times to Carrow Road, and each time emerged victorious in charge of Villa.

His £7m deadline-day signing Libor Kozak was his matchwinner today, scoring on the half-hour,  less than 90 seconds after coming on as a substitute for the injured Christian Benteke. The Czech found himself alone against John Ruddy, and although the Norwich goalkeeper saved his shot, the rebound was collected by Gabriel Agbonlahor, who set up Kozak to score – the first goal in English football for the man whose 10 for Lazio made him last season’s Europa League top scorer.

“He’s had to adapt after coming from a very different football culture, but his goals ratio in Serie A, where defences are tough, was very good,” said Lambert afterwards. “From the goal, his game grew – he led the line well.”

Villa’s victory was topped and tailed by two important saves by their American goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

In the sixth minute, Norwich were awarded a penalty for handball against Ciaran Clark; though Guzan was a good three yards off his line before Robert Snodgrass struck the ball, referee Chris Foy allowed the save to stand.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton, who revealed that Ricky van Wolfswinkel had been “expected” to take the spot-kicks – and will do so from now on – was phlegmatic about the save. “The goalkeeper did appear to come off his line, but that rule doesn’t seem to be enforced these days,” he said. “The miss undoubtedly gave Aston Villa a lift.”

Three minutes from the end, Guzan made the kind of flying save that conventionally attracts the epithet “wonder”, flipping the ball out one-handed from almost under his crossbar to deny Norwich substitute Gary Hooper a close-range debut goal.

Lambert was pleased with his goalkeeper, but not effusive. “That’s his job,” he said. “His job is to save.”

Hooper’s introduction in place of Johan Elmander after 63 minutes had been rapturously received by the Norwich fans – whose approbation turned instantly to fury when their new favourite, Nathan Redmond, was also replaced, by Anthony Pilkington. Hughton’s entirely reasonable explanation was that Redmond had been “shackled quite well” by Villa full-back Leandro Bacuna and the greater danger was coming from Snodgrass on the right. In truth, those substitutions made very little difference to a game in which the Canaries’ efforts were already becoming disjointed and remained so.

Villa had begun the game with last season’s double-act of Benteke and Agbonlahor up front; they ended it with the 6ft 4in Kozak partnered by the 6ft 5in Dane Nicklas Helenius – a sign, perhaps, of aerial bombardments to come, though both looked quick and capable on the ground.

Lambert appeared relaxed about the injury to Benteke. “I don’t know how bad it is, we’ll have to see,” was as much as he was prepared to reveal on the subject. Benteke, who has scored more Premier League goals in 2013 than anybody else – 18 – slipped while running backwards and appeared to twist his knee. He fell down again in pain as he returned to the field after treatment that was clearly ineffective, and was flat on his back on the halfway line as Norwich put together one of their best moves, which ended with Ricky van Wolfswinkel volleying inches wide.

There were not too many other close calls in a game that left Hughton frustrated at his side’s finishing. “It’s hard to take, because we deserved to win,” he said. “We created good chances but we didn’t have the quality or fortune we needed in front of goal.”

He will hope that Hooper will soon be up to speed to start paying off his £5m fee from Celtic, and that Van Wolfswinkel finds the finishing touch appropriate to an £8.5m striker –from the penalty spot perhaps.

Line-ups:

Norwich (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Martin, Turner, Bassong (R Bennett, 38), Garrido; Howson, Fer; Snodgrass, Elmander (Hooper 63), Redmond (Pilkington 63); Van Wolfswinkel.

Substitutes not used: Bunn, Whittaker, Hooper, Hoolahan, Tettey.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Luna; Tonev (Sylla, 77), El Ahmadi, Delph, Weimann; Agbonlahor (Helenius, 60), Benteke (Kozak, 28).

Substitutes not used: Steer, Baker, J Bennett, Albrighton.

Referee: Chris Foy

Man of the match: Brad Guzan (AstonVilla)

Attendance: 26,813

Match rating: 5

Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London