Norwich City’s first League Cup quarter-final for almost 17 years ended in a comprehensive 4-1 defeat to Aston Villa at Carrow Road as Paul Lambert returned to haunt his former club.
The home side started the brighter and went ahead through Steve Morison’s smart finish. But Brett Holman pulled one back within a minute and three second half goals in 12 minutes, including two from substitute Andreas Weimann, sunk Chris Hughton’s men.
Returning boss Lambert enjoyed a warm reception prior to kick-off before the match started at a frantic pace. It could easily have been 1-1 with the opening two minutes. Steve Morison's cross caught out a napping Shay Given from Norwich's opening attack, the Villa keeper relieved to see the ball come back off the inside of the post.
Straight up the other end, Darren Bent judged his run perfectly to bear down on Mark Bunn’s goal but the Norwich stopper was out brilliantly to smother the chance at the striker’s feet.
Morison continued to cause the Villa defence problems and his excellent run and cross flashed across the face of goal. Had Grant Holt not been off the pitch receiving treatment, it looked a tailor-made cross for him.
Given continued to look nervous and breathed a huge sigh of relief to see his clearance cannon off Morison and away from his goal. The away keeper redeemed himself by saving well at Marc Tierney’s feet from Bradley Johnson’s through ball but five minutes later Norwich were ahead.
Morison reacted well to Holt’s deft flick on to steal in between the Villa central defenders and help it past Given. But the home support barely had time to celebrate their lead before Holman put them level straight from the kick off with a wonderful half-volley from the edge of the area.
Weimann came on for the injured Bent 10 minutes before the break as the chances continued to come thick and fast in a typical cup tie. Matthew Lowton saw his effort well parried by Bunn and the keeper was again in the right place to save Christian Benteke’s follow up. Lowton saw another effort well saved just before the break before Given had to be at his best to turn away another Morison effort as the half ended all square.
The start of the second half matched the intensity of the beginning of the first as chances fell at both ends in the opening minutes. Morison headed over from Robert Snodgrass’s accurate cross before spurning an even better opportunity 50 minutes in. Played clean through by Holt, he chipped over Given but also over the bar. Moments later, he had the ball in the net, again from Holt’s pass, only to be flagged narrowly offside.
Villa then thought they had taken the lead, Lambert celebrating Benteke’s finish from Lowton’s cross before noticing the flag go up. And again, the decision proved correct.
Given, who had looked shaky at times, kept his side in the match with a fantastic point blank save from Holt’s cross 13 minutes from time and his side were further ahead two minutes later, Weimann turning in Fabian Delph’s cross.
The goal seemed to take the wind out of the Norwich sails and Weimann was again wheeling away in celebration minutes later as this time Benteke turned provider. Benteke himself smashed home a wonderful fourth from just outside the box after a string of some 16 passes and Given compounded the home side’s misery by denying them again with another reaction save from Leon Barnett’s header.