Su­perb Mur­phy puts dent in Villa’s hopes

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Derek Davis at Car­row Road

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.

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