Aston Villa beat Norwich to move up to 9th
Jacob Ramsey said he wants to emulate Steven Gerrard in becoming “one of the best goalscoring midfielders” after a magnificent solo effort helped Aston Villa win 2-0 at Norwich.
The 20-year-old ran at the Canaries defence from inside his own half before thumping the ball past Tim Krul to break the deadlock at Carrow Road.
Ollie Watkins sidefooted home Carney Chukwuemeka’s low delivery to complete the scoring and deepen Norwich’s relegation fears.
“I’ve been watching clips of the gaffer,” Ramsey told BT Sport. “He was one of the best goalscoring midfielders and that’s what I want to be.
“I saw Ollie [Watkins] knock it off, there was no-one there, so I thought ‘why not?’”
Gerrard has now won four of his six games as Villa boss since replacing Dean Smith – now in charge at Norwich – last month.
And the former England captain was thrilled with Ramsey’s effort.
“As a midfielder, you can only applaud that kind of play,” Gerrard said. “To then unleash a shot like that – it should be in the running for goal of the month.”
The victory lifts the visitors into the top half of the Premier League before Wednesday’s fixtures – proving the perfect response to Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool – while Norwich remain rooted to the foot of the table.
“It’s a big win, an important win,” Gerrard told BBC Match of the Day. “The first half was outstanding. It comes off a very challenging week. The application [from the players] at Anfield – they maxed out there.
“It’s a bright start, but it’s my job to keep pushing the standards.”
Dominant Villa win comfortably
Since replacing Smith at Villa in November, Gerrard has set about making them more difficult to beat.
They delivered a resilient display as they were beaten at Liverpool – but at Carrow Road, the onus was on Gerrard’s team to set the tone against a side with the worst defensive record in the division.
John McGinn almost opened the scoring with the kind of swerving, long-range effort his manager would have been proud of in his heyday, only for Norwich goalkeeper Krul to tip the ball over the crossbar.
But it was Ramsey – one of the players promoted to the Villa first team by Smith – who gave the visitors the lead their intricate play deserved. The 20-year-old was allowed to run unchallenged from inside his own half to open the scoring with a powerful finish.
Watkins was denied by Krul early in the second half, but the Dutchman was powerless to stop the 25-year-old’s close-range effort three minutes from time. Second-half substitute Chukwuemeka showed skill and composure to pick out the former Brentford forward at the far post, leaving him with a simple finish.
Plenty to ponder for Smith
Smith praised the performance and spirit of his Norwich players following Saturday’s narrow defeat by Manchester United, but there was little to get the home supporters off their seats at Carrow Road on Tuesday.
Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez barely had to break sweat, with the hosts managing just three tame efforts on target all evening.
Todd Cantwell was restored to the starting line-up but struggled to make an impact, registering only 24 touches before being replaced early in the second half by Adam Idah. The midfielder headed straight down the tunnel after leaving the field.
To add injury to insult for the Canaries, Ozan Kabak was forced off with an apparent ankle problem in the first half, joining several first-team regulars – including the likes of club captain Grant Hanley, Milot Rashica and Mathias Normann – already on the sidelines.
After the game, Smith said he “doesn’t know” if he will have enough players to face West Ham on Saturday.