Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Gareth Bale maintained his record of scoring for Tottenham at Carrow Road when he struck 10 minutes from time to deny Norwich City their first win in seven Premier League games.
Bale, who scored three times on his previous two visits to Norwich, produced a superb solo effort, taking the ball from just inside his own half and racing on to fire past goalkeeper Mark Bunn.
The Canaries had taken the lead on 32 minutes through Wes Hoolahan, finishing off a fine four-man move to give his side a deserved lead.
City were the better side for an hour but came under more pressure in the closing stages and, after Bale’s goal, Bunn produced a brilliant save to deny substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson a late winner.
Chris Hughton’s team produced a vastly improved performance on their showing in recent weeks, fighting for every ball, and would have been disappointed to miss out on all three points.
City fielded only two of the starting eleven from the shock FA Cup defeat by Luton – full-backs Russell Martin and Javier Garrido.
Sebastien Bassong returned after missing the 5-0 Premier League defeat at Liverpool with a calf injury, while the bench included goalkeeper Lee Camp, starting his second spell with the Canaries, and Steven Whittaker, whose last taste of action came at West Bromwich Albion on December 22.
Tottenham welcomed back striker Jermain Defoe, who missed the 2-1 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Leeds with a pelvic injury but had an injection in order to be fit.
New midfield signing Lewis Holtby, from Schalke, was among the substitutes, along with defender William Gallas, fit again after a calf problem.
Emmanuel Adebayor (African Cup of Nations), Younes Kaboul (knee), Sandro (knee) and Tom Huddlestone (leg) were all missing.
Defoe was winded after little more than a minute when Bunn’s clearance from a poor Turner backpass slammed straight into the striker and, fortunately for City, drifted out for a goal-kick.
At the other end, Hoolahan volleyed well wide after a Snodgrass free-kick was headed clear.
Tettey burst forward to good effect and when his cross was headed back by Pilkington, Snodgrass could not quite connect cleanly with the dropping ball and Lloris gathered easily.
Bale headed wide from a Walker corner but it was Norwich who looked more dangerous and Lloris almost caused problems with a poor punch from a Snodgrass free-kick.
The early stages were littered with free-kicks but Snodgrass’ delivery in the swirling wind was erratic.
With 20 minutes gone, Snodgrass picked out Holt with a fine through-ball but the skipper hoisted a long-range effort into the Barclay Stand.
There were vain appeals for a penalty when Holt muscled his way past Dawson and may have been tripped by Assou-Ekotto.
City went close on 29 minutes when Dawson struggled to deal with a Snodgrass cross and Holt followed up with a header that Lloris dived to his left to push round the post.
But on 32 minutes, the Canaries took a well-deserved lead through Hoolahan, his third goal of the season.
Snodgrass crossed from the right, Holt headed back from beyond the far post and Pilkington turned the ball into Hoolahan’s path, where he sidefooted past Lloris.
Garrido was booked for a body check on Bale but City were well on top and almost had a second when Bassong broke out of defence, sent Martin away and was just unable to get on the end of the full-back’s cross as he threw himself into the six-yard box.
Bale was under treatment for a thigh problem and although he continued, he was still limping.
Bunn had been a virtual spectator but made a smart save from Defoe three minutes before the break to keep City on terms after a touch from Lennon put the striker through.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Tottenham Hotspur 0
City took up where they had left off after the break and Hoolahan was just unable to get a touch to a Martin cross as Spurs wobbled again.
Turner made a timely challenge on Defoe and Bunn dived to his left to save from Bale as Tottenham at last managed to exert a bit of pressure on the home rearguard.
Pilkington was appealing for handball as his shot struck Vertonghen, and then Parker was spoken to, but not booked, for a foul on Hoolahan. Holt, however, was shown the yellow card on the hour for a trip on Walker.
Pilkington flashed a shot wide after 65 minutes to provide a bit of spark in a quiet period of play.
Snodgrass was unhappy to be penalised for a foul on Assou-Ekotto and after the resulting free-kick had been taken, he was booked for dissent.
With less than 20 minutes left, new signing Holtby replaced Dempsey for Spurs.
Hoolahan was next to be shown the yellow card for kicking the ball away, and then substitute Holtby was booked for a foul on Hoolahan.
With 10 minutes left, however, Bale levelled the scored with a fine solo goal. Taking possession just inside his own half, he rode Tettey’s challenge and raced to the edge of the area, weaving inside Garrido and firing powerfully past Bunn.
Defoe flashed an effort over the top as Spurs drew confidence from the goal.
With three minutes left, Sigurdsson replaced Lennon in Spurs’ second change.
With 90 seconds left, Bunn made a brilliant save to keep out a powerful effort from Sigurdsson.
City were under the cosh in the closing minutes but held on for a very well-deserved point.
• Norwich City: Bunn, Russell Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Tettey, Johnson, Snodgrass, Hoolahan (Howson, 81), Pilkington, Holt. Subs (not used): Camp, Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Fox, Elliott Bennett, Jackson.
• Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Parker, Dembele, Lennon (Sigurdsson, 87), Dempsey (Holtby, 71), Bale, Defoe. Subs (not used): Friedel, Caulker, Gallas, Naughton, Livermore.
• Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
• Attendance: 26,818
• Goals: City: Hoolahan (32). Spurs: Bale (80 min)
• Bookings: City: Garrido (36), Holt (60), Snodgrass (70), Hoolahan (75). Spurs: Holtby (79)