Chris Hughton hails ‘courageous’ Norwich City after self-inflicted killer blow against Chelsea
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton refused to let the sour aftertaste of Chelsea's crucial second goal deflect from the Canaries' courageous efforts in Sunday's 3-1 Premier League defeat.
City had the title-challenging Blues pinned back in front of a raucous Carrow Road and were rewarded when Anthony Pilkington cancelled out Oscar's first-half opener. Norwich's thirst for a winner saw them picked off at their own corner in the closing stages as Chelsea sprung a sharp counter that saw Eden Hazard rifle underneath John Ruddy before Willian secured the points in emphatic style.
'There is an overriding feeling of disappointment because the players put in a really good effort and the supporters could appreciate what they did,' said Hughton. 'I generally felt we deserved to get more. I'll take a lot of positives from this one in the next few days because I felt we showed a lot of courage and determination against a Champions League team with the quality they have got. We had really good phases when we were the better team.
'They pay fortunes for the players they do to make a difference like that and that is what happened, but I believe our supporters could see a team who was giving everything. They got behind us and they drove the team on. We couldn't have asked any more in terms of effort or determination from the players to get back in the game.'
Hughton had no interest in playing the blame game, with Alex Tettey harassed into a miscued attempted clearance that allowed Hazard to rifle past Ruddy.
'It is a poor goal for us to concede,' he said. 'It comes from our corner and you will always look at how it develops from there and I think we had other opportunities to do better, to be stronger before it reached John. Certainly now is the time to apportion blame. It is a team effort. I just think their power and pace on the counter got the better of us.
'I look at the strike for their third goal and it is a wonderful strike. When you have that type of quality and you can bring the three players they brought off the bench it is so difficult, but it was the second goal that hurt us. It is not just the money those players cost but it is the quality. They are three players that would get into most top teams, but you have to deal with that. I thought in that second half we had really good periods when we dealt with it and you hope they don't show that power and pace that saw us eventually come unstuck.'
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Hughton has been criticised in the past for his perceived cautious approach, but the hosts were on the front foot for prolonged periods.
'At 1-1 I thought we had to play that way because the longer it went if you sit back then they have such quality they can hurt you,' he said. 'You have to have periods when you keep it and I thought in that respect we could not be faulted. We could have won it at that stage but you are always wary. The game opens up and the onus is on you have to try and capitalise on the space.
'At 2-1 it becomes very difficult. I'm proud of the effort and what they put in after a difficult start when we conceded a goal so early in the game.
'To get back into it against the quality they've got, and to get ourselves in a position at 1-1 where if there was a team who was looking like they were going to win it, it was going to be us was pleasing.'