Aston Villa 1-2 Norwich City: Canaries win to seal Championship title
Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul said wrapping up the Championship title with victory at play-off bound Aston Villa “means so much” to the club.
The promoted Canaries only needed a point to be crowned champions but their result was essentially meaningless as second-placed Sheffield United – who required a win for any chance of leapfrogging them – were held at Stoke.
The league's golden boot winner Teemu Pukki prodded in his 29th goal of the season to put Norwich ahead before Villa replied when Jonathan Kodjia flicked home Conor Hourihane's low free-kick.
Both sides threatened a winner in a free-flowing game before Jamal Lewis burst forward to find Mario Vrancic, who slotted into the bottom corner for Daniel Farke's side.
“Promotion is the most important thing but to actually win it and to have a gold medal, we'll look back at this in 20-30 years,” Krul told BBC Radio Norfolk.
“I was fortunate enough to do it nine years ago with Newcastle and to sit here now and to lift the trophy, I just said [to team-mates] ‘take it, because it doesn't happen very often.”
The Netherlands keeper, 31, who played every minute in the league this season, said: “There were a lot of people who wrote me off and said ‘he can't play more than 20 games any more', and I was so eager to show people that was utter rubbish.”
Norwich finish the season with 94 points, five clear at the top, while fifth-placed Villa – who suffered their first defeat since mid-February – will now face West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion in the play-offs, hosting the first leg next Saturday (11 May).
Dean Smith's hosts made five changes – leaving out top scorer Tammy Abraham, playmaker Jack Grealish and key midfielder John McGinn – as Villa turned their attention to a second successive play-off campaign.
An excellent through ball from Kenny McLean – who later went off injured – was the catalyst for Norwich's opener, Onel Hernandez cutting back for Finland striker Pukki to convert.
Villa's Kodjia showed good movement to escape his marker for a third goal in his last four games, then Hernandez struck the bar for the visitors.
Norwich had the better of the second half, Jamal Lewis curling wide and Marco Stiepermann forcing a low save from Jed Steer, before Vrancic's goal secured their fourth second-tier title.
It was also the first time the Canaries have completed a league double over Villa since 1992-93, when both clubs finished in the Premier League top three.
Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith told BBC WM:
“It was a good performance and I don't think we deserved to get beaten. I thought it was two even teams going at it, both good teams with the ball.
“Norwich started better than us, we couldn't get close to them and it took us 15 minutes to get going. After the equaliser I thought we were the better team for the rest of the first half but didn't make the most of our opportunities.
“The second half went a bit end-to-end but I thought a draw would have been a fair result. I'm disappointed the unbeaten run has come to and end but it was a good performance.”
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