December 11 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Norwich City’s unbeaten Premier League finally came to an end as Romelu Lukaku’s second half winner condemned the Canaries to a first league defeat in 11.
Robert Snodgrass’ delightful free-kick had given the flying visitors a deserved lead only for Zoltan Gera to strike an untidy equaliser just before the interval.
And after an entertaining second half saw the game open up, Albion were the ones to take advantage as Lukaku rose to power home a winner to the delight and relief of the home crowd – the Baggies’ first win in five matches.
As expected, injured captain Grant Holt did not make the trip with Steve Morison earning his first Premier League start since the home defeat to Liverpool in September.
The Canaries started in the kind of confident frame of mind that comes when you are on a 10-game unbeaten run and while chances were in short supply, possession wasn’t.
However, Lukaku went closest first as he headed over Goran Popov’s centre in the opening minutes.
From there, Norwich controlled the tempo and the ball, and by the 23rd minute they had the lead as well.
Snodgrass earned the free-kick as he was bundled over by Peter Odemwingie, and the winger got to his feet to curl a now trademark free-kick into the top right corner via both of Ben Foster’s gloves. It was Snodgrass’ fourth goal of the season.
Albion struggled to answer their visitors’ confident form and ball retention, but they were creating chances on the counter. Former Ipswich defender Gareth McAuley went closest, sliding in on Chris Brunt’s corner only for his effort to be cleared off the line.
That warning was not heeded by City and two minutes from the interval Albion bundled home an equaliser in similar fashion.
It was debatable whether the Baggies’ corner should have been given as Alex Tettey and James Morrison challenged for the ball and clashed heads in the process.
But Albion took advantage of their fortune as Brunt’s excellent delivery from the flag saw Jonas Olsson’s initial header tipped on to the crossbar by a falling Mark Bunn before Gera reacted quickest to push the ball home. It was the hosts’ first goal in more than 350 minutes of football.
No doubt it was a good time for the hosts to score, but Albion may have wished the half-time whistle had been delayed as they finished the half in the ascendency, Odemwingie driving inches beyond Bunn’s far post.
• Half-time: West Bromwich Albion 1, Norwich City 1
The game opened up significantly as the second half wore on, Michael Turner heading wide City’s best chance from Snodgrass’ free-kick, while a free and flying McAuley also headed horribly off target from a Brunt set-piece.
Albion boss Steve Clarke threw striker after striker into the fray, but in the end it was the one he left on the pitch from the start who struck.
The excellent Popov crossed from deep on the left and as Javier Garrido was left to pick up Lukaku, the big striker lept powerfully to send his header past Bunn with eight minutes remaining.
City huffed and puffed after that, substitute Simeon Jackson heading their best chance wide, while Bradley Johnson headed agonisingly wide from another Snodgrass delivery with the last action of the game.
But in the end – and certainly a recent rarity – City’s endeavours just fell short and their proud, club record unbeaten Premier League run came to an end.
• West Brom (4-2-3-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov; Dorrans (Fortune, 46), Brunt; Gera (Long, 62), Morrison, Odemwingie; Lukaku (Tamas, 84). Subs not used: Myhill (GK), Ridgewell, Reyes, Rosenburg.
• Norwich City (4-4-1-1): Bunn; Whittaker (R Martin, 55), Turner, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass, Tettey (Jackson, 86), Johnson, Pilkington; Hoolahan (Howson, 73); Morison. Subs not used: Steer (GK), Barnett, E Bennett, Kane.
• Goals: West Brom: Gera (43), Lukaku (82). City: Snodgrass (23)
• Bookings: West Brom: Popov (90). City: Turner (57)
• Referee: Martin Atkinson
• Attendance: 25,799
Jonny Howson is loving life at Norwich City but the midfielder knows what could happen if he lets his standards drop.