Lambert hails Agbonlahor
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes the weapons of Gabriel Agbonlahor have played a big part in his side's drive towards Barclays Premier League safety.
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Agbonlahor netted a brace in the 2-1 win over Norwich at Carrow Road yesterday, his last-minute winner moving the Villains on to the 40-points mark with two matches left.
11. Gabriel Agbonlahor
The winger, 26, passed Dwight Yorke's Premier League scoring record in the 6-1 win over Sunderland on Monday night and Lambert believes he brings an extra dimension to the Villa attack, which has been led by the 22 goals of Christian Benteke
"Gabby has been playing ever so well. He is an absolute threat. He has speed and power, the speed to hurt teams," said Lambert, who recorded a second win at his former club this season to leave the Canaries with work still to do to ensure safety.
"If you have that in modern-day football, if you have that, it is a terrific weapon to have.
"Breaking Dwight Yorke's record is an outstanding achievement, he has been at the football club all of his career and has a great rapport with the crowd.
"He is playing really, really well at this moment in time.
"If he can keep doing that and we keep building, it will be great."
While Wigan's win at West Brom means safety is not yet guaranteed, Villa have given themselves a strong chance of retaining top-flight status once more following five wins from the last eight.
Villa's resurgence has justified Lambert's faith in youth, which was called into question earlier in the campaign as the team struggled for consistency. They were thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City, then humiliated 8-0 at Chelsea.
"It comes with a bit of time and belief, but first and foremost they are really talented footballers," said Lambert, whose side host the Blues next weekend and then travel to Wigan on the final day.
"They have took a lot of knocks on their season, but they are really good footballers who can play their game, and they are desperate to succeed, and they have been exceptional."
Norwich have slipped back into trouble after failing to make an impact in the second half of the campaign, following a 10-match unbeaten run towards the end of 2012.
Chris Hughton's men made a positive start yesterday, with playmaker Wes Hoolahan restored to the side in support of Grant Holt.
However, at the start of the second half, the Norwich defence were punished for backing off as Agbonlahor collected the ball on the halfway line before striding on to the edge of the Villa penalty area and lashing a low strike into the bottom corner.
The Canaries, who have won just twice since the turn of the year, at least showed some heart to rally and were rewarded when Robert Snodgrass was bundled over by full-back Joe Bennett to concede a penalty.
Holt, who had missed City's only other spot-kick this season in stoppage-time against Southampton, slotted the ball past Brad Guzan to set up a tense finale as both teams pressed for the winner.
Just as the clock looked to be running down to a draw, Ashley Westwood picked out Agbonlahor with a fine through pass which put the forward ahead of the Norwich defence and he rolled the ball into the far corner past Mark Bunn, who was preferred to the fit-again John Ruddy.
The defeat leaves the Canaries in 15th place, but just three points ahead of Wigan, who have a match in hand.
Norwich have cancelled the planned end-of-season dinner tomorrow night and Hughton expects a response next weekend in the club's final home game against West Brom.
"We have put ourselves in this position, now we have to fight and show the good things which we did against Villa," said Hughton, who decided against extending the loan spell of Kei Kamara, who returns to Major League Soccer.
"But the areas which resulted in them scoring the goals, we have to nullify that.
"We will have to come out fighting against West Brom next weekend and get a result."