Norwich City 1, Fulham 1
Norwich City ended a memorable year with another of their famous late goals at Carrow Road to earn a point from their Premier League clash with Fulham.
And it was fitting that Simeon Jackson, the man whose goal clinched promotion for the Canaries from the Championship back in May, should be the man to send another 26,000-plus crowd home happy.
Three and a half minutes of stoppage time had been played when Jackson headed home from a cross by fellow substitute Elliott Bennett to give Paul Lambert's men a share of the spoils, a point they deserved for their second-half fightback.
Fulham had taken an early lead through Orlando Sa, who struck with a splendid long-range effort in only the seventh minute, and they could have stretched their lead before the interval but for a goalline clearance by Kyle Naughton from Sa, the crossbar keeping out a Clint Dempsey header and a fine save by goalkeeper John Ruddy, denying Kerim Frei.
The much-changed Canaries were more purposeful in the second half, when Naughton, Andrew Surman and Jackson all came close to equalising before that late drama.
City boss Lambert rang the changes with four alterations to his starting eleven from the 2-0 defeat by Tottenham.
Spanish defender Daniel Ayala made his first Premier League start for the Canaries after one brief appearance as substitute back in August, while Kyle Naughton returned after his enforced one-match absence. In midfield, Bradley Johnson and Anthony Pilkington were recalled.
- 1 Norfolk beach named among UK's most contaminated
- 2 Man in 20s killed and another seriously injured in motorbike crash
- 3 Parish council weighs in on row over 'rollercoaster' racking
- 4 House boarded up after fight in Norfolk village
- 5 YouTube professional eater smashes 100oz steak challenge at Norfolk pub
- 6 Heatwave leaves dried-up pond like 'scene from sci-fi movie'
- 7 Norfolk spot named among UK's best waterside pubs
- 8 'Carnage' as fight involving axes breaks out after van crashes into house
- 9 Protests outside drag queen story event sees police called in
- 10 Fighter jet heard roaring over Norwich in night time training exercise
Defenders Ritchie de Laet and Adam Drury, who started against Spurs, did not feature in the squad of 18, while Andrew Crofts and Grant Holt were relegated to the bench.
Fulham were unchanged after the 1-1 draw at Chelsea, still without some of their bigger names with Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson out injured and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer among the casualties, but ex-Canary midfielder Dickson Etuhu was among the substitutes, along with Damien Duff.
Wes Hoolahan regained the captain's armband as he led the Canaries out for their final match of 2011.
City lined up with Russell Martin at right-back, Ayala alongside Zak Whitbread in the centre of defence and Naughton at left-back.
The first shot at goal of the match produced a goal in only the seventh minute – a spectacular effort from Sa.
The Portuguese lone striker took possession in the inside left position and unleashed a powerful right-foot shot from 25 yards that gave goalkeeper Ruddy no chance, diving to his left.
Sa looked certain to score a second goal two minutes later when he beat the offside trap and rolled his shot towards an empty net, where Naughton got back to hook the ball off the line.
Bradley Johnson came close to levelling in the 13th minute when good work by Hoolahan and Surman set him up for a shot that was deflected wide.
As City suddenly stepped up the tempo and forced a flurry of corners, Whitbread had a header palmed on to the woodwork from Surman's corner, and Morison was denied with both a header and a shot blocked on the line, first by Frei then by Riise, following a Fox corner.
Russell Martin pushed forward purposefully and worked the ball to Hoolahan, who had a shot blocked.
The Canaries forced another corner on 25 minutes when Pilkington's powerful shot was diverted wide, but Fox's kick came to nothing, then excellent defending by Kelly stopped Morison getting on the end of Russell Martin's cross.
It was very nearly 2-0 to Fulham in the 33rd minute when Dempsey headed against the bar from close range after Sa had nodded back Kelly's cross.
Frei looked dangerous on the Fulham left and forced Ruddy into a fine save seven minutes before the break when he set off on a surging run, cut inside Ayala' and struck a powerful shot that the exposed keeper beat away, diving to his left. Senderos headed wide from the resulting corner.
Hoolahan tried his luck from long range with a shot that passed the angle of bar and post, but it was hardly a taxing afternoon for Stockdale.
There were appeals for handball against Senderos as Hoolahan tried to wriggle his way into space, but referee Webb was unimpressed.
• Half-time: Norwich City 0, Fulham 1
Lambert made a change at the break, sending on Holt in place of midfielder Fox.
Within seconds, there was a problem for Fulham when Riise went down in a heap after Holt jumped with him, but the full-back was able to resume after treatment.
Dempsey produced Fulham's first effort of the second period but his 20-yard shot bounced harmlessly wide.
City carved out a great opening 11 minutes into the half when Surman and Morison combined on the left and the striker's cross reached Pilkington, but his first-time shot was blocked by the ever-alert Riise.
There was suddenly more urgency and after Johnson had a shot deflected into Naughton's path, the full-back let fly with a shot that clipped the top of the cross bar.
There was a long delay while Dembele received treatment after climbing into Surman and coming off worse, and when play resumed, Pilkington hit a swerving effort just over from a quickly-taken Johnson free-kick.
Naughton was getting forward well from left-back and fizzed a low drive just wide after a one-two with Surman.
With 25 minutes to go, Fulham made their first change as skipper Murphy made way for Etuhu, handing the armband to Hangeland.
There was another change for City as Jackson replaced Morison with just over 20 minutes to make an impact.
Surman, enjoying a busy second half, came very close to equalising when he fired just past the post from Hoolahan's pass.
Frei and Russell Martin were having an animated difference of opinion and when the youngster left his foot in on the City defender, referee Webb called him over for a word, but had still not produced a yellow card.
Pilkington was getting a bit of joy on the right and from one driven cross, Holt glanced a header wide.
With 10 minutes left, there were three changes, Fulham replacing Sa and Frei with Sidwell and Duff, while Bennett replaced Pilkington on the Norwich right.
Jackson was denied by a good save from Stockdale as he tried to curl the ball past the keeper, then Surman wasted a good free-kick opportunity by failing to beat the first defender.
Whitbread got his head on the end of a Johnson free-kick but his effort was straight at Stockdale.
Bennett's cross gave Holt the chance to level with just over a minute left, but he headed over the top under pressure from Senderos.
Five minutes' additional time was played, and finally, with 90 seconds of that time left, the Canaries levelled through substitute Jackson.
Bennett was the provider as he cut inside on to his left foot and delivered the perfect cross for Jackson to head past Stockdale.
• Result: Norwich City 1, Fulham 1.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Ayala, Whitbread, Naughton; Pilkington (Bennett, 80), Fox (Holt, 45), Bradley Johnson, Surman; Hoolahan; Morison (Jackson, 69). Subs (not used): Rudd, Barnett, Crofts, Wilbraham.
• Fulham: Stockdale; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Murphy (Etuhu, 65); Ruiz, Dembele, Dempsey, Frei (Duff, 80); Sa (Sidwell, 79). Subs (not used): Etheridge, Baird, Hughes, Kasami.
• Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
• Attendance: 26,406
• Goals: City: Jackson (90). Fulham: Sa (7)