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Villa deal Norwich Boxing Day blow with 1-0 win in relegation battle

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(Reuters) - Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane gave his side a 1-0 home win over Norwich City to move them one step closer to safety in the Premier League on Thursday.

The result moved Villa to 18 points, within a point of 17th placed West Ham United, while Norwich remain deep in the drop zone.

Norwich full back Sam Byram nearly opened the scoring for the visitors in the 18th minute with a header from an Emi Buendia corner, only to see it come off the woodwork with goalkeeper Tom Heaton well and truly beaten.

Anwar El Ghazi had two good chances to put Villa ahead in the opening period.

But he first failed to sort out his feet when attempting a shot from Trezeguet’s header across the box, before another first-time effort from a Matt Target cross went wide.

Villa finally made the breakthrough when skipper Jack Grealish and second-half substitute Hourihane combined in the box for the latter to sweep a left-footed strike past Tim Krul into the far corner.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson