Monday, December 24, 2012
Norwich City received advance warning of what it will take to overcome Chelsea on Boxing Day after one of the Blues’ fringe men sunk their stellar Premier League unbeaten run over these past two months.
Romelu Lukaku was deemed surplus to requirements by the European Champions after Chelsea agreed to sanction a season-long loan move for their £18m Belgian teenage summer signing.
The powerful striker was a major threat all afternoon at the Hawthorns but capped an energetic display with a fantastic leap above Javier Garrido to despatch Goran Popov’s raking diagonal ball in the 82nd minute.
Chris Hughton felt a sense of injustice over Albion’s equaliser, following Robert Snodgrass’ smart free-kick, when Zoltan Gera profited from a corner that should not have been awarded in the view of Canaries’ chief – but there were no complaints over the late match-winner.
“I’ve seen him do that before. He is a big strong lad and I think at that stage of the game it’s about can you press the ball,” said Hughton. “It’s difficult to press the ball in all areas because at that stage you are in a shape and you have to be resilient and hope that you can deal with most balls.
“The large majority of the balls we dealt with all afternoon, but I think you have got to give the lad (Lukaku) credit. I think that’s why they have bought him in, that’s why Chelsea have paid so much money for him, he is a big lad and I think if he gets in those positions he is going to be a handful.”
City looked well set for at least a point after frustrating Albion for long spells but there was more than an element of fortune to their equaliser just prior to the interval – although Hughton was quick to dismiss any grounds for a post-match appeal following a potential foul on keeper Mark Bunn prior to Gera slamming home Jonas Olsson’s initial far post header from Chris Brunt’s corner that should never have been.
“My first feeling was probably no,” he said. “I will wait to look at it again and look at the different angles and it’s certainly one that on a lot of occasions that referees will give against the keeper, but, no, we haven’t made a big issue with that. It is probably more disappointment at the fact it should not have been a corner in the first place.”