Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, January 13, 2014
Chris Hughton was adamant the key difference between Norwich City and Everton was the finishing not the formations at Goodison Park.
The Canaries’ boss paired Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel up front for the first time from the start in the Premier League, but the big-money summer signings failed to test Tim Howard with the hosts dominating proceedings until the final quarter. Gareth Barry’s venomous long range strike opened the scoring prior to the interval before Kevin Mirallas’ free kick beat a sprawling John Ruddy to seal the points.
“The difference between the two teams on this performance was the quality of the finishing,” said Hughton. “I thought we came here quite aggressively and played two up front to restrict the number of balls they play out from the back, because you have to try and limit their movement and the number of opportunities. They threatened a lot, they were very clever in how they got in behind us but John did not have to pull out too many saves and if Gary had scored that one (in the first-half) it would have given us a lift and we could have pushed on from there.
“I think the system that we played gave us an opportunity to close them down quicker, and an opportunity to get the ball up the park and keep it there. I felt that was quite brave of us to play two strikers. You can play an extra one in midfield and it means you have a bit more possession, but then you’re not giving yourselves the opportunities to score.”
Hughton could admire Barry’s left-footed hit but the Norwich boss was less than impressed with the way Everton’s holding midfielder was allowed to advance to the edge of the visitors’ penalty box.
“They have very good movement and it is difficult to stop everything but yes I think we could have done better on that goal,” he said. “The initial bit of that build-up was difficult because I think Ryan Bennett came out and then dropped back again and there was some movement to the side of him. I think Ryan was nervous to go out and face him up and rightly so with other players making runs, but at 1-0 you know the game can still change in your favour.”
Bennett was also a pivotal figure in Everton’s second just before half-time when he hauled down Leighton Baines.
“My first impression was it might not have been a foul but having seen it since then yes I don’t have any complaints,” said Hughton. “It is a wonderful finish but we didn’t shy away from trying to get back into the game. We can take pride from that last 30 minutes when we had a go and we had our own chances.
“Ricky had a chance, but to be fair it would have been against the run of play and if we had gone on and got something probably an unjust result. I was frustrated not to see that in the first half - I would have liked to have seen more of that. We showed character and I don’t think anybody can accuse us of lying down or not giving ourselves a chance to get back in it.
“They didn’t create as many clear-cut chances as they would like but in the pivotal moments they showed quality. We knew we were up against a team who would have more possession because they have generally played that way against most other sides this season so what you need to do is stick in there.”