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.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
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

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness