Norwich City have been relegated from the Premier League for a record sixth time after losing 2-0 at Aston Villa, courtesy of a goal and assist by substitute Danny Ings.
Norwich City have mathematically been relegated from the Premier League. A defeat at Villa Park, coupled with Burnley’s 2-1 comeback win at Watford, ensured a swift return to the Championship for the Canaries after a season back in the top flight.
Goals from Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings earned Aston Villa a comfortable 2-0 win, snapping Villa’s five-game winless run to move them up to 13th, on 40 points, while Norwich remain rooted at the foot of the table on 21 points, as they will now play their remaining games to salvage some self-pride.
Ings, who came off the bench to replace an injured Leon Bailey, found Watkins with a raking ball from the left, and his fellow striker collected the ball calmly before capitalising on Brandon Williams’ inopportune slip to fire the Lions into an advantage five minutes before the break.
It was a well-deserved victory for Villa, who never needed to shift out of second gear. Steven Gerrard’s side were indeed the superior team and had more pace, hunger, and urgency about their play than their opponents.
WatkIngs. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/KPm8xIyIlr
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) April 30, 2022
Having said that, the hosts had to wait a long time to put a stamp on three points when Ings doubled Villa’s lead in stoppage time with a brilliant twist and shot after Tim Krul had saved Jacob Ramsey’s attempt from a tight angle minutes before. Here is how we rated the performances of the Aston Villa players on a comfortable afternoon at Villa Park.
Emiliano Martinez: 7/10
Martinez made an excellent stop with the scores level, tipping Milot Rashica’s blistering attempt over the bar. Otherwise, the Argentine international was pretty much a spectator for large parts of the game, with Norwich posing little of a scoring threat on Saturday. He showed some good handling and was reliable as ever to keep his 11th clean sheet of the campaign and his second on the bounce following on from the 0-0 draw against Leicester last weekend.
Matty Cash: 6.5/10
It was not one of the strongest performances from Cash, but the right-back was a key outlet for his side and looked to form an effective link with Bailey down the right flank until the winger came off injured. He was good both on and off the ball. Defensively, he was a cool head, and despite being occasionally beaten on the outside by the speedy Rashica, the Polish international kept threats to a minimum down the right side of the field.
Calum Chambers: 7/10
The former Arsenal starlet enjoyed a largely comfortable outing at Villa Park as he nullified the threat of Pukki for long periods of the game. Chambers was not presented with any real defensive issues, and he was ready to cope with whatever Norwich threw at him, making 5 tackles in the process. When he strode out from the back with the ball at his feet, he always appeared confident.
Tyrone Mings: 7.5/10
The big defender was a dominating presence for Villa and led the defensive line with confidence and authority. Strong in the air and solid on the ground, Mings won all of his battles and kept everything under control in the back. All in all, it was an impressive showing from the skipper without any rash challenges, which helped Steven Gerrard’s team keep a second clean sheet in a row.
Lucas Digne: 7/10
Digne had an impactful game running up and down the left flank and provided a constant attacking presence with his overlapping runs. He put some quality crosses into the box to feed the forwards, while he was spot on positionally to prevent Kieran Dowell and Max Aarons from getting in behind him.
John McGinn: 7/10
The Scotsman was his usual effervescent self as Villa gradually seized control of the game in the second half. Always looking to make things happen, McGinn was not hesitant to take a shot at goal, though most of his attempts went into the sea of yellow shirts in the Norwich penalty area. Defensively, he demonstrated a high level of commitment, making a series of well-timed tackles.
Tim Iroegbunam: 7/10
Big positive from the first 45 was Tim Iroegbunam. Grew into the game and showed great awareness. Just 18 and playing DM with aplomb in the Premier League. Looks a proper talent. #AVFC
— Mark Samuels (@mark_samuels) April 30, 2022
The 18-year-old made a strong full debut, displaying real precision and hunger in defensive actions. Iroegbunam helped steady the midfield and, despite taking up that pivotal number six spot on the pitch; he did not look out of place whatsoever. Gerrard is hoping to acquire a new holding midfielder this summer, but it is refreshing to see that the former Rangers boss is experimenting with youth as well.
Jacob Ramsey: 7/10
Fresh from penning a contract extension at Villa Park, Ramsey was full of energy in the box-to-box midfielder role but lacked quality with his final ball at times. The 20-year-old wonderkid made a number of promising surges forward, causing serious problems for Norwich around their penalty area. He also linked brilliantly with Philippe Coutinho and Digne when he drifted around the left side of the pitch.
Leon Bailey: 6/10
A hit-and-miss game for Bailey, who forced Tim Krul to make a spectacular save and showed flashes of brilliance but was equally sloppy on the ball. He has had a tough time with injuries since arriving at Villa Park, which is quite frustrating as he only lasted 43 minutes before limping off once again.
Ollie Watkins: 8/10
The striker was a busy focal point up top for Villa, both from an offensive and defensive sense. Watkins worked tirelessly all afternoon and linked up well with Ings to rifle his ninth goal of the campaign past Krul with immense force and a minor deflection. Could have scored more goals, but he compensated for those missed opportunities by providing defensive cover and some gruelling front-foot pressing.
Philippe Coutinho: 6/10
Villa are going to spend so much money on Coutinho when Buendia is right there. I hope I’m wrong but it feels like such a bad decision. Emi once again looking a class above today #AVFC
— Simon Bidwell (@Simon__Bidwell) April 30, 2022
No direct goal involvement for Coutinho once again, but the tricky Brazilian was full of purpose when on the ball, with some great spells of possession, cleverly disguised passes, and moments of real quality. He threatened to make an impact against Norwich, finding openings with ease, but he struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as he had done in his first three games in a Villa shirt.
Danny Ings: 8/10
Danny Ings’ game by numbers vs Norwich (50 minutes):
100% tackles won
100% aerial duels won (3/3)
100% long ball accuracy
2 chances created
A crucial contributor off the bench. 👏 pic.twitter.com/OjSBatKRR6
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 30, 2022
The English forward played a few good passes and made an instant impact with a wonderful long ball to Watkins. Ings also made some strong runs in the box and linked up well with the midfielders. He looked sharp and had a point to prove, it appeared, as he scored a well-deserved goal in stoppage time.
Douglas Luiz: 6/10
The Brazilian replaced Tim Iroegbunam in the middle of the park and helped Villa to see out the game with ease.
Emiliano Buendia: 7/10
Like Ings, Buendia provided a spark and looked bright and eager to prove a point to the manager after coming on for Philippe Coutinho. Added to his assist tally, finding Danny Ings to seal all three points for the hosts.