Norwich City defender Michael Turner denied Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert a Barclays Premier League victory against his former club with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.
Christian Benteke justified Lambert’s decision to axe Darren Bent from his starting line-up for the third time in four matches by producing Villa’s 27th-minute opener.
But Villa were forced to defend desperately after left-back Joe Bennett’s sending-off early in the second period before Turner earned the Canaries a deserved share of the spoils.
Fittingly the Norwich goal was created by Wes Hoolahan, who was the most creative player on either side.
Villa have now won only one of their last 19 league matches and were indebted to a trio of fine saves from goalkeeper Brad Guzan for earning them a share of the spoils.
Norwich fans greeted the arrival of Lambert into the dug-out with a chant of ‘there’s only one Chris Hughton’ but there was no verbal animosity directed at their former manager.
Norwich, fresh from last weekend’s win over Arsenal, knocked the ball around in confident fashion in the early stages, but it was Villa midfielder Brett Holman who produced the first attempt on goal.
He exchanged passes with Karim El Ahmadi before firing a low drive which Canaries keeper John Ruddy got his body behind.
Norwich looked full of confidence but Elliott Bennett dragged his shot well wide from the edge of the box.
It needed a fine save by Guzan to keep his side on level terms after 22 minutes. Grant Holt threaded the ball through to Hoolahan who was left with only Guzan to beat but the United States international managed to block the shot with his left foot.
Guzan then cut out an attempted knockback across goal from Holt aimed at the unmarked Anthony Pilkington.
But then, against the run of play, Villa went ahead through Benteke’s second goal since his summer move from Genk after 27 minutes.
Gabriel Agbonlahor held the ball up before releasing the overlapping Holman and his cross found Benteke completely unmarked. The Belgian international had time to pick his spot before sliding the ball past Ruddy into the corner of the net.
Villa defender Bennett became the first player to be yellow carded for a challenge on Elliott Bennett.
A long pass from Fabian Delph was brought under control by Benteke inside the Norwich box but his eventual shot was deflected wide.
Villa were reduced to 10 men after 52 minutes when Bennett collected a second yellow card for another offence against Elliott Bennett.
It led to Lambert bringing off Agbonlahor and replacing Bennett with Eric Lichaj at left-back.
Norwich had more of the possession with their numerical advantage but Elliott Bennett’s poor touch let him down after a probing ball over the top of the Villa back four from Bradley Johnson.
Guzan made his second crucial save of the game when he blocked a rising close range attempt from Hoolahan after Pilkington had supplied the telling pass.
Herd then made a crucial block on a Hoolahan header after Holt headed back across goal into his path before Bent replaced Benteke after 69 minutes.
Guzan was again Villa’s saviour when he saved Holt’s low drive after he broke clear but he had no chance of preventing Turner’s equaliser after 79 minutes.
Pilkington’s quickly taken corner picked out Hoolahan and his inswinging cross was met by Turner whose glancing header flew into the far corner of the net.
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