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Gabriel Agbonlahor may have just secured Aston Villa’s survival

May 4, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

Gabriel Agbonlahor of Aston Villa celebrates scoring against Norwich City during their English Premier League soccer match at Carrow Road in Norwich Reuters

Aston Villa may have just secured their Premier League survival, and it’s only appropriate that Gabriel Agbonlahor was the man to do it. With two goals at Carrow Road, the Villa captain lifted his side to 2-1 win over Norwich City, vaulting his team to 40 points and, perhaps more importantly, temporary hold of 13th place in the Premier League.

That could change in a few minutes, should Southampton get a result at White Hart Lane. And Sunderland could also vault Villa after Monday’s meeting with Stoke, yet the point remains the same. All of a sudden, there are a slew of clubs more likely to go down than Villa. Paul Lambert’s team, just needing to best one of them, looks set to survive another relegation battle.

After a scoreless first half, Agbonlahor opened the scoring when he fired a right-footed shot inside Mark Bunn’s post from 22 yards out. Grant Holt equalized from the spot in the 74th minute, but shortly after Wigan went in front at The Hawthorns, the Villa captain make the Latics an afterthought, again going to Bunn’s right, this time scoring the match-winner from the right of Norwich’s area.

Forty points is the unproven magic number for avoiding relegation, but that’s irrelevant folklore. What Villa fans should really be looking at is the growing list of teams between them and the drop. All of Southampton, Norwich City, Newcastle, Sunderland, and Wigan sit between Villa and a Championship-bound place. All five of those teams would have to out-point Villa over these final two weeks to relegate the Lions.

That’s why Agbonlahor’s goals are so huge. As teams like Norwich and Newcastle trip their way to the 38th pole, Villa’s passed them. And it’s highly unlikely all these stumbling sides can reverse course in time to send Villa down.

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