Benteke injured, but AVFC keep clean sheet against Norwich City: Instant Reaction

Jamie McDonald

The big story of the day was always going to be Christian Benteke's injury, but the first clean sheet in 26 league matches is a close second.

Let's cover the first thing on everyone's mind first: we've got no further news on Christian Benteke's injury. The Belgian striker fell to the pitch before the half hour mark and seemed to have injured his groin. The announcers and folks on twitter had all commented that the pitch looked awfully slick today, so it wasn't surprising that a player's legs slid out from under him. After hobbling off, Benteke tried to come back on and literally fell down after only a few steps.

It was hard to tell if the injury was bad, but it's not something we want to see no matter what. I can't imagine that Benteke will be featuring in this week's League Cup match.

Before that, in the match's opening minutes, Norwich City were awarded a penalty for a handball, but Brad Guzan - who would be the day's true hero - did well to save it and prevent the early deficit. Benteke's substitute, Libor Kozak, made the injury at least momentarily forgettable when he scored a mere two minutes after coming on. After taking a through ball and being left with a sitter, Kozak shot and had the ball rebound off the keeper:

Kozak1b_medium

In a similar situation, we've seen lots of players be exasperated, but Kozak kept watching the ball, which had gone to Gabby Agbonlahor who was out wide on the left. Kozak took a few steps back and buried the pass from Gabby. It wasn't the prettiest goal, but it showed a ton of composure.

The first half ended largely without incident and Villa took a lead into the tunnel. In the second half, despite poor play from Andi Weimann and Aleksandar Tonev, Nicklas Helenius was subbed on for Gabby Agbonlahor. Gabby didn't seem angry, and he was one of the best Villans on the pitch, so it'll be worth keeping an eye open and seeing if he got injured at all.

One of the running story lines of the second half was the howler of a match that Aleksandar Tonev was having. I lost count of how many terrible shots he had, but if you weren't watching, imagine someone with the desire of Stiliyan Petrov, the aim of Emile Heskey, and the sobriety of someone forced to watch Villa last season. Then put this person on a football pitch and watch him work. It was a merciful development when Paul Lambert subbed him off in the 77th minute for Yacouba Sylla.

The final 10 minutes were a nervous affair, as Villa's defense did things that we have come to expect (read: terrified us). But in a strange turn of events, the inevitable Norwich City goal never came. Their best effort was saved by Brad Guzan in what may very well be the keeper's moment of the season:

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From there, Villa played out the five minutes of stoppage time and achieved their first clean sheet in 26 league matches.

The Benteke injury is awful news and the match wasn't very well played, but Villa got the three points. What did you think? Who was your man of the match? Let us know in the comments!

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