Lambert hails battling side

first_imgAston Villa manager Paul Lambert praised his battered and bruised team for putting in a performance that was good enough to take all three points away from Carrow Road. The Scot was returning to former club Norwich and the 1-0 scoreline secured his third win in three games in Norfolk since he left to take over at Villa Park. His side survived conceding an early penalty and an injury to striker Christian Benteke to take the lead through the Belgium international’s replacement Libor Kozak. The loss was only Norwich’s second home league defeat in 12 matches, with the last also dished out by Villa towards the end of last season. Canaries boss Chris Hughton had demanded a reaction from his players following a meek display in defeat at Tottenham last weekend and felt his side were better this time around. “On occasions when we haven’t deserved to get anything we have been quick to put our hands up.” he said. “I don’t think that was the case. On the balance of play we created good chances and we added an offensive endeavour to our play. The result does not reflect our performance. “What we didn’t have at the end of it was a bit of quality, fortune and guile to get us the goal we deserved.” Hughton backed Snodgrass to take further penalties in the future but admitted he expected club-record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel to step up. “Sometimes what you will have on that occasion is a lad who feels very confident that he is going to put it away,” he added. “That was very much the case with Robert – when you have a penalty you are expected to score. If you have an inspired goalkeeper who guesses the right way it is tough. “We were all expecting Ricky to take it. Those conversations are very private but I expected him to take it and if we get one in the future then I would expect him to take it.” One goal has usually not been enough for Villa to take all three points but they hung on to keep their first clean sheet in 26 Barclays Premier League outings with Lambert left praising his side’s commitment. “The result was the most important thing rather than the performance,” he said. “What I am really pleased about is we had a few lads carrying knocks and we asked them to go out and perform. I thought they were brilliant. We were missing Jores (Okore) and Ashley (Westwood) who have been big players for us and we had to patch a few others up. In that opening 10 minutes I felt we could have been 2-0 up and then we conceded a soft penalty.” Robert Snodgrass saw his penalty saved by Brad Guzan after referee Chris Foy had pointed to the spot for a handball against Ciaran Clark. The American goalkeeper has been in great form for Villa and kept the visitors ahead with a couple of fantastic second-half saves, with Lambert happy with his ever-reliable stopper. “He made a brilliant save on the penalty,” he added. “He played a major part in the result but that is what we pay him for. That is his job. His job is to make saves but he has been like that for me for the past year. “This is a big season for him with the World Cup and for us but he is an absolute top pro and top man. I have seen him do it in training every day and his performances every day have been to that standard.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Europa League: Arsenal fight back to draw 2-2 at Liege and make Round of 32

first_imgArsenal came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Standard Liege and progress to the last 32 of the Europa League as group winners.The Gunners were all but through before kick-off, with the hosts needing to win 5-0 to prevent the visitors from going through to the knockout rounds – a result that looked even more unlikely after a first half Arsenal edged.However, Samuel Bastien put the hosts ahead just after the restart when his shot deflected off Sokratis and beyond the wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez.The goal boosted the hosts but visibly knocked the fragile confidence of the Arsenal players, who became even more nervy when Standard Liege got a second as Selim Amallah’s strike from inside the area flew into the far corner via a slight deflection off Konstantinos Mavropanos.It set things up for a tense final 20 minutes as the hosts pursued an unlikely result but Alexandre Lacazette settled the Gunners’ nerves when he converted a bullet of a header.Bukayo Saka then equalised with 10 minutes to go, curling a neat finish into the corner to secure the draw Arsenal needed to top Group F.It was perhaps a bit too much to expect Monday’s morale-boosting win at West Ham to mark an immediate upturn in Arsenal’s performances, particularly after a torrid run of nine games without victory.As was the case in London, the Gunners were below par for over an hour of this encounter and paid the price for poor defending – an area of concern for much of this season – when no players took responsibility to close down Standard Liege’s players, allowing the goalscorers to get off shots that were easily preventable.But it took going behind to spark Arsenal into life and, after weathering pressure from the hosts, a devastating three-minute spell killed off Standard Liege’s hopes of an upset.There were glimpses of what Arsenal are capable of but the fact it took falling behind for that show is something Freddie Ljungberg or a new manager will need to address quickly to prompt a more consistent run of form. Source: BBClast_img read more

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