Lambert - De Laet error is part of the learning curve

Paul Lambert backed young defender Ritchie De Laet to learn from his opening day error.

The Manchester United loanee was caught in possession just inside his own half by Franco Di Santo before the Argentinian tumbled under De Laet's attempted recovery challenge inside the Norwich penalty box.

Latics' midfielder Ben Watson hammered the spot kick past John Ruddy, but Wes Hoolahan arrived on cue to equalise prior to the break. De Laet then turned in an immense display of defensive resolve after the interval – capped by a superb lunging block to foil Victor Moses before kicking away the follow-up in a desperate late finale from Roberto Martinez's side.

'Hopefully, he'll learn from it, but you have to give him enormous credit for his blocks at the end,' said Lambert. 'I couldn't see it (the penalty) from how far away I was from it. I know that's something you don't want to hear. I would have to see it again – Ritchie has made the mistake, but he has also redeemed himself towards the end with the two blocks.

'He is only a young player and that's what happens when you're young. Sometimes you make mistakes in vital areas of the pitch, especially against top players.'

De Laet was a central figure in a resolute Norwich backline that came under sustained pressure during the final quarter of an hour after Martinez had introduced Colombian international striker Hugo Rodallega.

'Great credit to them and they showed a great desire not to get beat,' said Lambert.

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'I said last year if you can't win a game then make sure that you don't lose it. They kept on going for me. The spirit is there. I thought we were in the ascendancy when they scored, but we got punished for a mistake and that is what will happen against top players so it is something we have to eradicate. The effort to get back into the game and not wilt was excellent. We had a lot of possession of the game.'

Steve Morison's driven cross eventually dropped for Hoolahan to despatch a clinical leveller past Ali Al Habsi in first-half stoppage time.

'When you're that close then you can easily miss it,' said Lambert.

'The hardest thing in the world is to put the ball in the back of the net. His performance was really fine and Wes has been like that for the last three years for me. I always think we'll score. I didn't think we looked tentative or anything like that. I thought he (Morison) was brilliant – he was a handful for the whole game. He was excellent – the cut on his eye was a nasty one. He was a bit bloody, but he was determined to carry on and he was a handful.

'He can run the channels – for his first game I thought he was excellent, Steve.'

Praise Lambert also showered on the 4,500 strong travelling support who filled the entire away end.

'The supporters always come like that,' he said. 'I've seen it in League One and the Championship – they were buoyant again here. It's extraordinary what they do for the club. It's a hell of a long distance to get anywhere.

'They are vital to the football club and I have said that from day one ever since I walked through the door. Even in League One the fan base was huge and they are a credit to the football club and we are certainly going to need them.'