Norwich striker Grant Holt too hot to handle as Alex McLeish's Aston Villa future looks grim

Norwich City 2 Aston Villa 0

Carrow Road

Fans of both teams joined in a chorus of "You're getting sacked in the morning" to Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish as his season ended with a whimper, while Norwich City's Paul Lambert was hailed a hero by the home supporters.

On the day summer seemed to break out in East Anglia, the Canaries sang in celebration of a team that has surpassed the most optimistic expectations less than three years after kicking off a League One season with a 7-1 home defeat by Colchester United.

That game was the Norwich debut of a lower-league journeyman striker named Grant Holt, now transmuted into the Premier League's top-scoring Englishman after Wayne Rooney and the subject of England speculation; and it was the most persuasive of job applications for visiting manager Lambert, who was soon to build the Norwich side which yesterday looked far more than four league places better than a woeful Villa.

Holt, named yesterday inevitably as his club's player of the season, enhanced his reputation as an old-fashioned centre-forward when he bundled in the opening goal with his chest after eight minutes. And it was the panic he caused the Villa centre-backs that brought about the second Norwich goal after 21 minutes, James Collins beating Holt in the air only to head the ball straight to Simeon Jackson, who scored.

At the day's start Villa were not quite mathematically safe from the threat of relegation – which would have given McLeish the curious distinction of taking both Villa and Birmingham City down in successive years – though the accumulated odds of Queen's Park Rangers winning at Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers achieving a goal swing of 17 in their favour must have been of an order comprehensible only to quantum physicists. That they survived was thanks in large part to the continuing excellence of goalkeeper Shay Given, four of whose seven saves yesterday were breathtaking.

His opposite number John Ruddy, the other Norwich player considered an England possible, did well when he tipped a second-half shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor on to a post.

On a carnival day of good-natured taunting between the two sets of fans, the saddest was the lampooning of the former England forward Emile Heskey on the occasion of his Villa farewell. "If Heskey scores, we're on the pitch," sang the Villa fans, the home crowd promptly joining in. Unlike McLeish's dismissal, it never looked like happening.

Match facts

Norwich: RUDDY, NAUGHTON, R BENNETT, R MARTIN, LAPPIN, E BENNETT, HOWSON, B JOHNSON, HOOLAHAN, HOLT, JACKSON

Villa: GIVEN, LICHAJ, COLLINS, DUNNE, CUELLAR, WARNOCK, HERD, CLARK, IRELAND, HESKEY, AGBONLAHOR

Scorers. Norwich: Holt 8, Jackson 21

Substitutes: Norwich Morison (Holt, 68), Wilbraham (Jackson, 68), Crofts (Howson, 76). Aston Villa Bannan (Herd, h-t), Gardner (Cuellar, 66), Baker (Warnock, 81).

Booked: Norwich Holt . Aston Villa Clark, Ireland.

Man of the match Howson. Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Norwich 55% Aston Villa 45%.

Attempts on target: Norwich 12 Aston Villa 5.

Referee M Atkinson (W Yorkshire). Attendance 26,803.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers