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Monday, April 9, 2012
Elliott Bennett’s first goal for Norwich City gave them a magnificent victory over Champions League hopefuls Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Bennett struck a 66th-minute winner to give the Canaries their first win at Spurs since 1993, and it was thoroughly well deserved success, without doubt the outstanding result of a remarkable season.
Anthony Pilkington celebrated his recall after injury by giving the Canaries a 13th-minute lead with a cool finish after an attempted clearance by Kyle Walker rebounded into his path.
Jermain Defoe levelled for Spurs on 33 minutes with a cool finish from Jake Livermore’s pass, though City felt they should have had a penalty just moments earlier for a foul on Grant Holt.
In a thrilling second half, goalkeeper John Ruddy denied Benoit Assou-Ekotto with a brilliant one-handed save and Bradley Johnson missed a golden chance to make it 2-1 before winger Bennett struck the winner after 66 minutes, rifling a stunning shot past Brad Friedel.
After that, City lost striker Aaron Wilbraham to a nasty cut on the side of the head, but looked more likely to extend their lead than Spurs were to get on terms - and were well worth their victory.
The result was greeted with joyful celebrations in front of some 3,000 travelling fans as the rest of the stadium rapidly emptied.
City boss Paul Lambert made three changes after the 2-2 draw against Everton with Bradley Johnson recalled in midfield, Anthony Pilkington returning after missing three games with a hamstring injury and Aaron Wilbraham given his first Premier League start.
Wes Hoolahan and Andrew Surman reverted to the substitutes’ bench, while David Fox was left out of the 18.
For Spurs, Wales international Gareth Bale recovered from an ankle knock in time to play, Ledley King returned as captain, and there were recalls for Aaron Lennon, Jake Livermore, Louis Saha and Jermain Defoe.
Ruddy was the first goalkeeper forced into action in the fourth minute, saving from Saha after a tricky run by Defoe.
Tottenham forced the first corner, Ward heading clear from Modric’s kick.
There was a scent of a chance for City when Elliott Bennett played Holt into a potential shooting position but he was quickly closed down, and minutes later, Holt got on the end of Pilkington’s cross but headed well wide.
The Canaries’ bright opening produced a goal to stun the home crowd in the 13th minute when Pilkington scored his eighth of the season.
It was Pilkington who caused the problem for Spurs by robbing Kaboul and pushing the ball in Wilbraham’s direction but Walker’s attempted clearance took a ricochet off King and the ball dropped perfectly for Pilkington to sidefoot past Friedel.
A break by Bale looked threatening for Spurs as he shoved Howson out of his way but Russell Martin got back to divert his shot for a corner, a poor one from Modric that was easily cleared.
A foul by Livermore on Elliott Bennett gave City a free-kick on the left and Pilkington’s delivery forced Friedel to tip the ball away for a corner.
The home crowd were getting frustrated and City won another free-kick just outside the Spurs area, Johnson firing it into the wall. As Spurs broke quickly, Bale sent a low cross skidding across the six-yard box where Defoe just failed to connect.
There were appeals for a penalty when Holt appeared to be shoved over by King, but referee Oliver was unmoved and while City boss Lambert was protesting to the fourth official, Spurs broke swiftly and Livermore sent Defoe racing away on the right where he coolly beat Ruddy for the equaliser.
The Canaries were almost ahead again within a minute, though, as Elliott Bennett swung in a free-kick from the left and Ward’s powerful volley was beaten away by Friedel.
Another Pilkington free-kick almost caught Friedel by surprise at the far post but this time the flag was up for an infringement.
In first half stoppage time, Kaboul hobbled off to be replaced by Nelsen.
• Half-time: Tottenham Hotspur 1, Norwich City 1
Spurs made another change at the restart when Saha made was for Adebayor.
Russell Martin made a vital block one minute into the half by getting in the way of Bale’s shot after a determined run by Lennon.
Wilbraham forced a corner as City hit back and Holt got his head to Pilkington’s kick but could only send it across the area.
Walker was booked for bringing down Pilkington as City pressed again, but Pilkington sent the resulting free-kick flying over the top.
Eight minutes into the half, Ruddy kept the Canaries on terms when he made a tremendous one-handed save from Assou-Ekotto after the defender played a one-two with Adebayor and looked certain to score.
Johnson missed a golden opportunity to restore City’s lead on 58 minutes when Elliott Bennett’s ball sent Holt away on the right and he floated a cross perfectly for Johnson, but the midfielder sliced high over the top as he hit it on the bounce.
Johnson was booked a minute later for a foul on Lennon, but City had further penalty claims when Wilbraham looked to have been fouled.
Elliott Bennett was next in the book for a foul and then there was a real escape for City when Lennon sent Bale away and his curling effort struck the bar and rebounded to safety.
Instead it was City who gained the lead again in the 66th minute with a superb goal by Elliott Bennett, his first for the club.
Taking possession on the right side of the area from Russell Martin’s pass, he beat Friedel by rifling in a powerful right-foot shot that gave the keeper no chance.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Lambert made the first change by sending on Morison for Holt.
Spurs then made their final change when Van der Vaart was sent on for Livermore, and Pilkington made way for Surman with City’s next change.
Bale flashed a header wide from Assou-Ekotto’s cross as Tottenham looked to get back on terms.
Both sets of physios were rushing on to the field with 13 minutes to go when there was a nasty collision between Wilbraham and Van der Vaart.
Wilbraham suffered a cut to the left side of his head and had to be helped off to be replaced by Jackson.
Morison headed just wide from a Ward free-kick as City continued to look enterprising.
A Johnson volley flew wide with six minutes left as Spurs struggled to find a way back into the contest.
As the game entered five minutes of stoppage time, Johnson had a curling effort blocked by Nelsen, then put the follow-up just wide.
• Result: Tottenham Hotspur 1, Norwich City 2
• Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul (Nelsen 45), King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Livermore (Van der Vaart, 71), Modric, Bale; Defoe, Saha (Adebayor, 45). Subs (not used): Cudicini, Rose, Kranjcar, Sandro.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett, Ward, Drury; Elliott Bennett, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington (Surman, 73); Holt (Morison, 69), Wilbraham (Jackson, 80). Subs (not used): Steer, Barnett, Crofts, Hoolahan.
• Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
• Attendance: 36,126
• Goals: Tottenham: Defoe (33). Norwich: Pilkington (13), Elliott Bennett (66)
• Bookings: Tottenham: Walker (50). Norwich: Johnson (59), Elliott Bennett (62)