Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in his grudge match with former club Norwich after Michael Turner bagged a late equalizer for the Canaries yesterday.
Lambert and Norwich are suing each other for breach of contract following his acrimonious move from Carrow Road to Villa Park in the close-season and the Scot admitted this week he hasn’t spoken to Canaries chairman Alan Bowkett for two years.
It looked as though Lambert would have the last laugh on his old employers when Belgian striker Christian Benteke fired the hosts into the lead in the first half at Villa Park.
Villa defender Joe Bennett was then sent off for two bookings after the break and Norwich made their numerical advantage count when Turner headed his first goal for the club with 11 minutes remaining.
The draw keeps Norwich one point ahead of Villa but both clubs, with just a single win apiece this season, are still too close to the relegation zone for comfort.
Lambert had preferred Benteke to Darren Bent as he dropped the England striker for the third time in four games and the gamble paid off as the Belgian scored only his second goal for Villa since his pre-season move from Genk.
Benteke struck in the 27th minute as Villa took the lead against the run of play.
Gabriel Agbonlahor held the ball up before releasing the overlapping Brett Holman and his cross picked out Benteke, who kept his cool to slot a fine finish past John Ruddy.
Bennett became the first player to be yellow carded for a challenge on Elliott Bennett and he saw red seven minutes after the break for another foul on the same player.
Norwich were well on top by then and Chris Hughton’s side, 1-0 winners over Arsenal in their last match, were rewarded for their pressure in the 79th minute.
Brad Guzan had just made a good save to deny Grant Holt but Norwich kept pressing and Turner glanced home a header from Anthony Pilkington’s cross to leave Villa with only one win from their last 19 league matches.