Norwich City 1, Southampton 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Nathan Redmond's brilliant solo strike sealed Norwich City's first Premier League win of the new season against Southampton at Carrow Road.
The England Under-21 international crashed a low right-footer past Artur Boruc in the 68th minute to settle a contest between two evenly-matched sides. Adam Lallana struck a post in the opening period and there was also a series of penalty appeals waved away by Howard Webb in each half before City were able to inflict a first league defeat of the season on the Saints.
City's hard-fought victory minimised some of the damage from last weekend's disappointing loss against Hull and also provided the perfect boost for the Canaries ahead of the international shut down.
Hughton restored Sebastien Bassong to his Premier League line up for the first time this season with Steven Whittaker preferred to Russell Martin at full-back. Martin Olsson's omission from the matchday squad saw Javier Garrido retain his place on the opposite flank from last weekend's reverse on Humberside with Redmond operating in front of the Spaniard. Anthony Pilkington was named on the substitutes' bench after his goalscoring return from a knee injury in the midweek Capital One Cup romp against Bury. Johan Elmander's two-goal display against the Shakers saw him edge Wes Hoolahan out of the chief support role to Ricky van Wolfswinkel, with Leroy Fer partnering Bradley Johnson at the base of the Canaries' midfield.
Southampton gave a full Premier League debut to club-record signing Dani Osvaldo following his recent move from Roma, but highly-rated young defender Luke Shaw was only named on the bench after being forced off with a knock in the Saints' most recent Premier League draw against Sunderland.
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City looked keen to start on the front foot with Fer and Johnson pressing high up the pitch. Redmond cut inside Calum Chambers on a veering run before unleashing a strike a yard wide of Boruc's right-hand upright. Robert Snodgrass was unceremoniously dumped to the turf by Dejan Lovren, but the Scot's free kick was cleared with few alarms by the Saints' backline. Norwich's growing confidence was typified by a patient bout of passing that saw Fer work enough space for Johnson to advance but drag a tame left footer wide.
Elmander was thwarted from point blank range in the 16th minute after van Wolfswinkel had flicked on Snodgrass' deep free kick which was controlled by a falling Fer on his chest but the Dutchman's attempted volley instead squirmed to Elmander, who could only poke wide under pressure from Boruc.
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City earned a large measure of good fortune shortly afterwards at the opposite end when Lallana's strike struck Johnson's outstretched arms positioned in front of the Norwich midfielder's face two yards inside the home box. Referee Webb was in close attendance from the incident but elected to wave away Saints' penalty appeals. Turner then glanced away Lallana's driven cross with Osvaldo already midway through an acrobatic bicycle kick a yard behind the City centre-back.
Fer's willingness to take the ball in tight areas triggered a powerful counter from the hosts that inadvertently led to a penalty claim of their own after Whittaker and Snodgrass had sliced down the right before van Wolfswinkel's head down appeared to brush Chambers' hand at the far post. Fer had no intention of waiting for the officials' intervention as he latched onto the follow up only for Jose Fonte to bravely throw himself in the line of fire.
City appeared to draw encouragement from that raid after a prolonged lull in the action with Redmond next to harass the Saints' backline prior to feeding Snodgrass who shovelled onto Whittaker, but Danny Fox diverted the Scot's angled close range hit behind.
Southampton's impressive midfielder Lallana volleyed against the outside of Ruddy's right-hand upright from 15 yards five minutes before the interval when City had struggled to deal with James Ward-Prowse's initial free kick.
Ruddy was pressed into action on the restart to parry Osvaldo's sharp shot on the turn after Ward-Prowse and Chambers had cut Norwich open down their left flank. Lallana predictably was at the source of Southampton's next attacking incursion with a clever turn to lose Johnson before feeding Osvaldo who drifted outside Whittaker but choked a strike gathered by Ruddy. Wanyama's close attentions forced Fer to miscue Snodgrass' deep free kick at the opposite end as City looked to check the visitors' early second half momentum. Norwich's Dutch destroyer then underlined his creative ability with a slip pass for Snodgrass who tricked his way past Fox inside the Southmpton area only to stab into the side netting.
Elmander's movement saw him gather Redmond's driven pass before trying to service van Wolfswinkel in one seamless offering but Fonte was back to alleviate the danger at the concession of a corner that City spooned out of play. The Swede then directed a difficult near post header into the terracing after Redmond tricked his way past Chambers with City enjoyed a concerted spell of pressure. The excellent Lallana made way for Gaston Ramirez in the 62nd minute in what Saints' boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed afterwards was a tactical move.
Redmond was increasingly an influential figure and the teenager opened his Norwich goal account in fine style with a thunderous low strike from the edge of the area that beat Boruc for pace after Ward-Prowse had rashly shown the midfielder inside.
Hughton made his first change with Jonny Howson introduced for the tiring Elmander to inject fresh energy into the City midfield. Southampton replied in kind with Jay Rodriguez replacing the ineffectual Osvaldo and the former Burnley man triggered momentary panic when he hit the deck between Whittaker and Turner attempting to control Rickie Lambert's lifted pass inside the Norwich penalty area.
City were now content to retreat back towards Ruddy's goal in the closing stages but Southampton's final incision failed to match the smooth approach play. Redmond was the perfect outlet after the visitors' attempted to over-complicate matters again, but after ghosting past the over-worked Chambers he drilled at Boruc – Fer's glancing header from the corner dropping at the Pole's feet.
Lambert's free kick struck a sturdy Norwich wall at the other end before Turner thwarted Steven Davis with City's rearguard now under serious stress. Snodgrass, however, could have doubled Norwich's slender lead when he burst clean through at the other end in stoppage time but Webb again refused to be swayed after Fonte appeared to lever the Scot off the ball. A clearly-incensed Snodgrass continued his protests to the official on the final whistle after City's priceless win.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Fer, Johnson, Snodgrass, Elmander (Howson 76), Redmond, van Wolfswinkel. Subs (not used): Bunn, Martin, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Becchio, Tettey.
• Goal: Redmond (68)
• Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Lovren, Fonte, Fox, Schneiderlin (Davis 72), Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Osvaldo (Rodriguez 78), Lallana (Ramirez 62), Lambert. Subs: (not used): Davis, Clyne, Yoshida, Shaw.
• Added on time: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorks)
• Attendance: 26,819