Superb Murphy puts dent in Villa’s hopes
Given the standard of performance here, and gleaning a meagre four points from the past five games, Aston Villa do not look like a team destined for a Premier League return.
The Midlanders’ hopes of closing the gap on second-placed Cardiff, who they play on Tuesday, suffered a serious setback against Norwich.
They were beaten by an unstoppable Josh Murphy goal, followed by another couple made by the winger, aided by some shoddy defending.
The manner of the defeat made manager Steve Bruce seethe as he left Norwich, a club he won the League Cup with as a player in 1985, without a win as a manager for the sixth successive game. “We didn’t do enough from the first whistle to the last and got what we deserved,” he said. “We gave ourselves a wonderful chance through the performances during the season. The last three or four games, unfortunately, we’ve been found wanting.”
It took a split second of superb technique by Murphy to separate the sides moments before half-time, going for goal from almost 30 yards and bending a left-footed shot into the far corner.
It was a rare moment of quality in an otherwise pedestrian match with far more riding on it for Villa than City.
James Maddison’s neat pass to Murphy for his 10th goal of the season underlined why he is the Championship’s top creator with more than 100 passes leading to chances, and eight goals.
Maddison was involved in the buildup for the second goal, too, as he found Murphy on the left. The 23-year-old whizzed past Ahmed Elmohamady with ease and passed to Harrison Reed
Match-winner: Winger Josh Murphy scored the first Norwich goal and set up the other two
who, in turn, floated in a diagonal ball. John Terry, at 37, stepped up in unison with James Chester, leaving Denis Srbeny unmarked and onside, to scruffily get the better of Sam Johnstone.
Jack Grealish beat Angus Gunn from 18 yards with a low shot in the 67th minute to offer the 1,950 Villa supporters hope of a fightback. That died five minutes later when Maddison laid the ball in to Murphy who beat two defenders and drew another three, then squared to Maddison for his 15th goal of the campaign.