Lambert rang the changes for his return to Carrow Road, recalling Ciaran Clark at centre back as replacement for the crocked Jores Okore, while Leandro Bacuna and Aleksandar Tonev replaced Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood.
The two teams kicked off at a frenetic pace, with chances being carved out at both ends of the pitch.
Norwich should have taken the lead on just six minutes after being awarded a penalty for a hand-ball by Clark.
But Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a good save to deny Robert Snodgrass from the spot.
Villa hit the front on the half-hour mark and it was a first goal for Libor Kozak, who had been forced to enter the fray after star man Christian Benteke limped off with a worrying injury.
Kozak swooped on Gabby Agbonlahor's squared pass to send the visitors ahead.
The Canaries were hit by a further blow before the break with Sebastien Bassong being forced off with a hamstring injury.
After halftime, the outstanding Robert Snodgrass continued to pull the strings in midfield for Norwich, but Guzan refused to be denied.
The home support turned on manager Chris Hughton as he took off Nathan Redmond for Anthony Pilkington midway through the second-half.
Substitute Gary Hooper had the best chance of an equaliser almost at fulltime. The striker knew little about his effort, as Javier Garrido's cross cannoned off him, but Guzan, again, produced a wonder save to keep his clean sheet.