Benteke can become one of the best, says Lambert

Paul Lambert backed Christian Benteke to become one of the world's best strikers after he helped Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

Benteke returned from a three-match suspension to score the only goal of the game in Villa's 1-0 win at Selhurst Park - his effort proving enough to end a nine-match winless run in the Premier League for the visitors.

The goal was Benteke's first since March, partly due to a torn Achilles sustained in April, but manager Lambert believes the 23-year-old has all the required attributes to eventually be considered among the game's best marksmen.

"I've been fortunate in my own career to play with some of the best players in the world striker-wise and, if he keeps progressing the way he is and learning the game, hopefully he'll hit [those] heights," Lambert said. 

"He's certainly a terrific footballer. He's missed half the year, that's the magnitude of it.

"His injury was a really bad injury and to come back from that alone was excellent. The [red card] against Spurs never helped our case, but him coming back gave everybody a lift. I'm delighted for him.

"Gabby [Gabriel Agbonlahor] has coped well up there without him. But we've lost [Libor] Kozak as well, our two main strikers. Christian coming back today [was a boost], it was a fantastic goal."

Villa's victory may have been their first since September 13, but they have now gone four matches unbeaten - a run that has helped them climb to 12th in the table.

And Lambert is delighted that his side appear to be turning a corner in terms of results.

"I know you're [the media] saying nine games not winning but the last four we've not been beat," he added. "It's how you want to perceive it, I choose to look at the positives.

"I'm delighted for the lads that they've come through it. "[When] it's Aston Villa Football Club, it's big news [when you struggle] and I'm delighted for them and they've earned their plaudits for the performance."