Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa

By Kevin DarlingBBC Sport
Grant Holt scores
Grant Holt scores

Norwich capped a superb season with an easy win over Aston Villa that heaps more pressure on manager Alex McLeish.

Canaries striker Grant Holt bolstered his unlikely claim for a Euro 2012 place, bundling home a free-kick at the far post for his 17th of the season.

Simeon Jackson pounced on Carlos Cuellar's mistake to tuck away from close range and double the hosts' lead.

Villa were then indebted to goalkeeper Shay Given, who made several saves to keep the score respectable.

McLeish was relentlessly booed by the visiting fans throughout a defeat that rounded off a miserable first season in charge at Villa Park for the Scot.

It was also a fitting end to Norwich's triumphant campaign, as the dominant hosts sealed a 12th place finish in the table.

Villa ended up 16th on 38 points - their lowest tally since 1987 under Billy McNeill.

Villa were rotten - McLeish

Although they mathematically secured their survival in this match, it was not a day for celebration and Villa's final position just two points above the relegation zone makes grim reading.

Injured England striker Darren Bent was conspicuous by his absence, failing to the make the bench amid reports he is set to be fit for Euro 2012.

It meant the spotlight fell more sharply on Holt, who remains unfancied to win an international cap despite being the Premier League's second highest-scoring Englishman this season.

The striker notched his 15th league goal of the campaign after eight minutes, diverting home Bradley Johnson's free-kick at the far post with an unorthodox combination of chest and shoulder.

The Canaries soon scored again when Cuellar marked his final appearance for Villa with a defensive howler.

Norwich were brilliant - Lambert

The Spanish defender unwittingly headed Ryan Bennett's pass straight to Jackson, who was denied by Given from six yards but then tucked away the rebound.

Given had to be alert to thrwart Jonny Howson, Simon Lappin and Elliott Bennett as Norwich repeatedly cut through Villa's midfield and backline at will.

The only noteworthy Villa attack of the first half was Eric Lichaj's 20-yard strike tipped wide by John Ruddy.

They started the second half in much brighter fashion, as Ruddy was called upon to deny Emile Heskey and Stephen Ireland.

But Norwich soon reasserted their superiority and Jackson was unlucky not to grab his second goal when his rasping 20-yard drive was palmed away by Given.

There was more trouble for McLeish when Cuellar appeared to be unhappy at being substituted in his farewell game.

The beleaguered manager's luck was summed up when Gabby Agbonlahor's strike was expertly tipped on to the post by Ruddy, another Canary who has staked a claim for an England place after an outstanding season.

There was a celebratory mood inside Carrow Road at the final whistle as the home fans hailed Paul Lambert - and keeping hold of their manager will be the Canaries' most important task of the summer.

Meanwhile, McLeish is set to meet Villa owner Randy Lerner this week with even greater uncertainty over his future.

Live text commentaryexternal-link