Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson scored as Norwich beat Aston Villa at Carrow Road to end their fine Premier League campaign on a high.
Many had expected Paul Lambert’s Canaries to be battling at the wrong end of the table on their first return to the elite for six seasons.
However, a string of industrious displays kept Lambert’s hard-working side clear of danger well before the final day visit of Villa, who barring a monumental goals swing, were also secure of top-flight status, albeit after what has been an uninspiring campaign under Alex McLeish.
First-half goals from leading scorer Holt and Jackson made for a party atmosphere in the Norfolk sunshine — where the several thousand Villa fans sent a loud and clear message they expected better next season.
After Holt was booked for failing to retreat at a free-kick, the Norwich captain fired the Canaries in front after eight minutes. James Collins bundled over Simeon Jackson, 25 yards out on the right. Bradley Johnson floated the resulting free-kick into the Villa box, where Holt got up between two defenders at the far post, the ball cannoning off his shoulder and past Shay Given for a 15th Premier League goal.
Norwich went 2-0 up after 22 minutes. A long ball forward from right-back Kyle Naughton was headed back across his own six-yard box by Carlos Cuellar, straight into the path of Jackson.
Given was out quickly to make a smart block, but the diminutive Canada striker calmly slotted the rebound into an empty net.
Norwich had a strong shout for a penalty when Jackson’s cross hit Cuellar’s outstretched arm — but referee Martin Atkinson saw nothing untoward and waved play on.
The visitors finally sprung to life five minutes before the break as American defender Eric Lichaj strode to the edge of the Norwich penalty area and sent in a low shot which John Ruddy palmed around the post.
Villa made a change for the start of the second half as midfielder Chris Herd was replaced by Barry Bannan, and they quickly had a dominant spell.
Villa were unfortunate not to pull a goal back when Gabriel Agbonlahor cut in from the left and his shot was touched on to the inside of the far post by Ruddy.
Norwich were still creating chances at the other end, where substitute Aaron Wilbraham blazed over before winger Elliott Bennett did the same.
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