Ireland’s Conor Hourihane the hat-trick hero for Aston Villa
Midfielder gives Steve Bruce’s side first win, Daryl Murphy on target for Forest again
Conor Hourihane scored a hat-trick as Aston Villa beat Norwich City 4-2 at Villa Park. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC/Getty
Aston Villa 4 Norwich City 2
Conor Hourihane netted a hat-trick as Aston Villa answered their critics in style with a scintillating 4-2 home triumph over Norwich.
Keinan Davis made a sparkling first-team debut up front, and was involved in Villa’s two first-half goals — scored by Hourihane and Andre Green.
The Canaries hit back with a 60th-minute strike from Josh Murphy, but Hourihane bagged his second eight minutes later and, although Norwich stormed back through Nelson Oliveira’s strike on 79 minutes, Hourihane made sure of Villa’s first Sky Bet Championship win of the season by completing his hat-trick five minutes from time.
Villa boss Steve Bruce, putting his faith in youngsters to lift the midlands club out of the doldrums, drafted in Davis, who has made rapid strides since arriving from Biddleswade United last year, and fellow 19-year-old Green in an attempt to find some goalscoring flair that has been lacking so far this term.
Davis quickly stamped his mark on the game and very nearly made a dream start but was foiled by Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn after going through on his own in the second minute.
Davis could not be subdued, though, and in the 20th minute he sent Hourihane clear down the left. The Irishman’s low cross just evaded Ahmed Elmohamady at the far post.
The response from Norwich was some penetrating play from Murphy which had Villa’s defence in a tangle but the sparkling Davis could not be constrained.
His speed, enthusiasm and no small measure of skill was evident when Villa went ahead in the 22nd minute.
On-loan Tottenham midfielder Josh Onomah put Davis clear down the right and his snappy low cross to the unmarked Hourihane was slotted home from 10 yards.
Norwich’s best chance of a first-half equaliser arrived when Cameron Jerome raced clear but he was thwarted by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone racing 10 yards outside his area to tackle the striker.
Three minutes before the interval Villa Park erupted when Green increased Villa’s lead with a speculative long-range shot which whistled into the top of the net. Once again it was Davis who set up Henri Lansbury, who fed the ball into the path of Green.
Norwich brought the game back to the boil on the hour with a goal from Murphy — their fifth successive goal this season scored in the second half.
But Villa restored their two-goal cushion when Hourihane’s shot was deflected into the net by Harrison Reed.
Canaries substitute Oliveira again gave the Canaries hope by reducing the deficit 11 minutes from the end, but a revitalised Hourihane netted his third goal with a 20-yard raking drive six minutes later.
Hourihane’s midifeld partner Glenn Whelan played the full 90 minutes at Villa Park, while Wes Hoolahan was unable to save the game for Norwich after coming on as a 74th minute substitute.
Elsewhere Daryl Murphy’s fine start to life at Nottingham Forest continued as he scored the second goal in a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.
Murphy slotted a 79th minute penalty at the City Ground - his third goal in four games - as Forest made it three wins from four league fixtures.
In the top flight Burnley’s Irish contingent were brought back down to earth with a bang as the Clarets were beaten 1-0 byWest Bromwich Albion at Turf Moor, a week after beating champions Chelsea.
And Shane Long had a late goal disallowed as Southampton beat West Ham 3-2 at St Mary’s thanks to a last minute Charlie Austin penalty.