sport

Benteke 'can get much better'

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says striker Christian Benteke is already world-class - but he can get much better.

Benteke was a sensation in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 23 goals following his 7m move from Genk.

He started the current campaign in good form, scoring five goals in the first five games, but he then suffered a hip injury and, on his return, failed to find then net in 12 games.

On Sunday he appeared to be back to his best, scoring two in three minutes in the 4-1 victory over Norwich.

The first was a brilliant overhead kick, and Lambert says that Benteke is a special player and is only going to get better.

"I think if he does over the second half of this season what he did last season then we're talking about having an absolute world-class player on our hands," said Lambert.

"This season was always going to be hard for him. He's only been in Britain for a year and a half, and I think people forget that, and they forget his age as well.

"He's got the ability to be a top, top player, but he's still a long, long way to go before he hits the heights of his career. His two goals were fantastic though.

"Christian's performance was great, but I thought the front three (Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann) were an absolute handful the whole game.

"If Sebastien Bassong hadn't have scored (an own goal for Villa's fourth) then Gabby would, which would have been deserved for the way he played, and Andi was also excellent.

"The three of them I thought were back to their best.

"But for a young team we're miles from where we want to be. Slowly but surely we're getting there and if we keep growing, keep being confident, then their careers will keep going.

"It's a young group and win, lose or draw, you keep them up there.

"Against Cardiff (a 0-0 draw), we should have won that game, but David Marshall had one of those nights where he saved everything. He was excellent," said Lambert.

"Against Newcastle (a 1-0 defeat), there wasn't too much wrong, other than getting that little finishing touch, but against Norwich it all came together.

"We're going into the games with a lot of confidence, but we didn't look a team that was low on confidence. That was the pleasing thing.

"I knew if everything clicked then we would score, and if we continue performing that way then we are a massive threat."