Aston Villa came from behind and eased their relegation worries with four goals in 15 minutes in a ruthless first-half display against Norwich.

Wes Hoolahan side-footed Norwich ahead but Christian Benteke struck twice in two minutes - a superb volley and a header - to put his side in front.

A clinical counter-attack ended with Leandro Bacuna's curling effort.

Sebastien Bassong's own goal added to Norwich's woes and the Canaries remain close to the drop-zone.

Norwich, who would have hoped to capitalise on last week's 1-0 victory over Tottenham, are four points ahead of 18th placed Sunderland, but the League Cup finalists have played two fewer games.

The Canaries' final four league matches of the season are against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Free-scoring Aston Villa

  • Villa have now twice scored four first-half goals in the Premier League. The first time they did so was against Wimbledon in 1995.
  • Villa striker Christian Benteke has scored five headed goals this season, which is the most in the Premier League.

But ahead of this clash, City manager Chris Hughton said his team should accept the game's "ups and downs", though he would not have expected to experience such a range of emotions in a mesmerising opening 45 minutes.

His team made the perfect start - Gary Hooper picking out recalled team-mate Hoolahan who calmly side-footed into the corner from 12 yards - but dramatically unravelled thereafter.

Such a handsome victory over his former employers will no doubt please Villa manager Paul Lambert, but he will mainly take delight in his side having opened a seven-point gap between themselves and the Black Cats.

It was a result few would have predicted when Norwich were breaking forward with ease in the first 10 minutes and murmurs of unrest could be heard rippling around the stadium.

Hughton rues Norwich's 'mad 15 minutes'

But momentum swung Villa's way in an astonishing 15-minute period and the boos were soon replaced by roars of approval.

Benteke inspired the revival and his first goal was breathtaking. With his back to goal the Belgian beautifully controlled Ron Vlaar's hopeful ball into the box with his chest and, with a shuffle of the hips, volleyed beyond a helpless John Ruddy.

The striker's second was a simple close-range header from an Ashley Westwood corner but equally as effective.

Norwich were shell-shocked and Villa took advantage as Gabriel Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann and Bacuna counter-attacked with pace, with the latter curling his strike into the far post.

The visitors then struck a nail into their own coffin when Bassong, under pressure from Agbonlahor, directed Fabian Delph's cross into his own net.

Benteke goal world class - Lambert

It was only the second time Aston Villa had scored four goals in the first half of a Premier League match. The last time they did so was in their 7-1 win against Wimbledon in February, 1995.

Villa had not scored in three league matches prior to this match so it was perhaps optimistic to expect them to repeat their free-scoring first-half exploits after the break.

Agbonlahor should have extended his team's advantage but instead headed Delph's cross straight at Ruddy. The former England forward was denied once more by Ruddy in the dying minutes as the onrushing goalkeeper saved with his legs.

But they were misses which had little impact on a game which ended Villa's four-match winless run in the league and secured them just their third win in 15 matches.

Check out the best photos from Sunday's Premier League matches on the BBC Sport Facebook   page.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Aston Villa

  • 01 Guzan
  • 07 Bacuna
  • 23 Bertrand
  • 15 Westwood
  • 04 Vlaar
  • 02 Baker
  • 08 El Ahmadi
  • 16 Delph
  • 20 Benteke (Holt - 82' )
  • 10 Weimann (Albrighton - 81' )
  • 11 Agbonlahor

Substitutes

  • 03 Bennett
  • 06 Clark
  • 12 Albrighton
  • 13 Steer
  • 18 Sylla
  • 29 Holt
  • 37 Robinson

Norwich City

  • 01 Ruddy
  • 02 Martin
  • 23 Olsson
  • 27 Tettey Booked (Howson - 80' )
  • 26 Yobo
  • 05 Bassong
  • 07 Snodgrass Booked (Pilkington - 45' )
  • 04 Johnson
  • 11 Hooper
  • 14 Hoolahan
  • 22 Redmond (Elmander - 63' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 03 Whittaker
  • 08 Howson
  • 12 Pilkington
  • 13 Bunn
  • 16 Elmander
  • 19 Becchio
  • 24 R Bennett
Ref: Anthony Taylor
Att: 30,303

Match Stats

Shots

10 7

On target

4 4

Corners

6 2

Fouls

12 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1.

90:00 +2:03 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1.

90:00 +1:48

Foul by Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa).

90:00 +1:48

Johan Elmander (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:54

Grant Holt (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +0:54

Foul by Russell Martin (Norwich City).

87:55 Booking

Booking Johan Elmander (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

87:51

Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87:51

Foul by Johan Elmander (Norwich City).

84:36

Attempt saved. Gary Hooper (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jonny Howson with a through ball.

82:52

Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa).

82:52

Johan Elmander (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:13 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aston Villa. Grant Holt replaces Christian Benteke.

81:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aston Villa. Marc Albrighton replaces Andreas Weimann.

80:21

Offside, Aston Villa. Ashley Westwood tries a through ball, but Gabriel Agbonlahor is caught offside.

79:02 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Jonny Howson replaces Alexander Tettey.

78:47

Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.

78:47

Foul by Martin Olsson (Norwich City).

76:42

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Russell Martin.

76:41

Attempt blocked. Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fabian Delph.

75:29

Attempt missed. Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ashley Westwood with a cross following a corner.

75:01

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Joseph Yobo.

74:19

Attempt missed. Johan Elmander (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Russell Martin.

70:42

Foul by Christian Benteke (Aston Villa).

70:42

Joseph Yobo (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:10

Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa).

69:10

Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:23

Foul by Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa).

66:23

Martin Olsson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

65:39

Attempt missed. Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Christian Benteke.

64:44

Offside, Norwich City. Russell Martin tries a through ball, but Johan Elmander is caught offside.

62:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Johan Elmander replaces Nathan Redmond.

59:51

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

58:49

Delay in match Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa) because of an injury.

57:21

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Sébastien Bassong.

55:45

Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

55:45

Foul by Joseph Yobo (Norwich City).

54:20

Hand ball by Gary Hooper (Norwich City).

50:12

Foul by Fabian Delph (Aston Villa).

50:12

Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

49:07

Attempt saved. Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fabian Delph with a cross.

45:00

Second Half begins Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Norwich City. Anthony Pilkington replaces Robert Snodgrass.

45:00 +2:44 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1.

45:00 +2:00 Booking

Booking Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

45:00 +1:56

Ryan Bertrand (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

45:00 +1:56

Foul by Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City).

45:00 +0:41

Attempt missed. Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ryan Bertrand.

44:55

Offside, Norwich City. Bradley Johnson tries a through ball, but Gary Hooper is caught offside.

40:29 Goal scored

Goal! Own Goal by Sébastien Bassong, Norwich City. Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1.

37:56

Attempt blocked. Karim El Ahmadi (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Benteke.

36:31 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Aston Villa 3, Norwich City 1. Leandro Bacuna (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andreas Weimann following a fast break.

35:28

Foul by Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa).

35:28

Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

34:52

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Fabian Delph.

34:49

Attempt blocked. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.

34:47

Attempt saved. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Gary Hooper.

34:14

Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa).

34:14

Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:59

Foul by Christian Benteke (Aston Villa).

32:59

Russell Martin (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

30:36

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

29:56 Booking

Booking Alexander Tettey (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

29:36

Delay in match Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) because of an injury.

29:09

Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:09

Foul by Alexander Tettey (Norwich City).

26:32 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Aston Villa 2, Norwich City 1. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ashley Westwood with a cross following a corner.

26:12

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Sébastien Bassong.

25:33

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Robert Snodgrass.

25:17

Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

25:17

Foul by Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City).

24:02 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Aston Villa 1, Norwich City 1. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Ron Vlaar.

22:08

Attempt saved. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Wes Hoolahan.

20:23

Foul by Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa).

20:23

Alexander Tettey (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

19:34

Ryan Bertrand (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

19:34

Foul by Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City).

16:21

Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Nathan Baker.

15:35

Attempt missed. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Gary Hooper.

11:44

Foul by Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa).

11:44

Martin Olsson (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:30

Foul by Nathan Baker (Aston Villa).

8:30

Gary Hooper (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

2:51 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Aston Villa 0, Norwich City 1. Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gary Hooper.

1:11

Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Martin Olsson.

1:08

Attempt blocked. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

0:35

Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

0:35

Foul by Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers