Norwich City 2, Southampton 1

DAVID CUFFLEY Jamie Cureton’s dramatic return to Carrow Road continued this afternoon with two stunning goals to sink last season’s play-off semi-finalists, Southampton. The Canaries were second best for most of the first hour of their first Championship home game of the season and they trailed to a goal from Kenwyne Jones after 36 minutes.

DAVID CUFFLEY

Jamie Cureton's dramatic return to Carrow Road continued this afternoon with two stunning goals to sink last season's play-off semi-finalists, Southampton.

The Canaries were second best for most of the first hour of their first Championship home game of the season and they trailed to a goal from Kenwyne Jones after 36 minutes.

Jones squeezed home a shot from close range after City failed to deal with a corner from their former midfielder, Youssef Safri.

City's best effort until then had come after just six minutes when Gary Doherty struck the crossbar.

But the match was turned on its head in the space of 10 minutes after the break. Cureton equalised after 61 minutes when Saints' keeper Kelvin Davis picked up a back pass in his six-yard box and the striker rifled the free-kick into the roof of the net after a touch from substitute Mark Fotheringham.

Most Read

Davis denied Cureton with a superb save two minutes later but Cureton struck a spectacular winner after 70 minutes with a superb volley from a cross by Lee Croft.

It made it four goals in two home games for Cureton in the space of five days following his summer move from Colchester.

Both of manager Peter Grant's main injury worries cleared up with full back Adam Drury shaking off an ankle injury to keep his place in the side, and French midfielder Julien Brellier recovering from a tight groin to make his competitive home debut for the Canaries.

The man to miss out was midfielder Mark Fotheringham, who had to be content with a place on the bench despite scoring his first goal for City in the 5-2 Carling Cup win over Barnet on Tuesday night.

Striker Chris Martin was the odd mad out from the 16 on duty against Barnet after making a late appearance as substitute.

Southampton made four changes to the team beaten 2-1 by Peterborough in the Carling Cup on Monday night.

Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis recovered from a stomach upset to play, while central defender Wayne Thomas made his debut after a £1m move from Burnley on Thursday.

John Viafara was back in midfield and striker Kenwyne Jones also returned after injury.

Most interest, however, focussed on the return to Carrow Road of midfielder Youssef Safri following his acrimonious departure from Norwich earlier this month.

There was a chorus of boos, at least from one end of the ground when Safri's name was announced before kick off and his first few touches of the ball in the opening minute were also greeted with boos.

City were defending the Barclay goal and it was there that the first direct attempt was fired as Rasiak tried a left foot volley from 25-yards, but it was comfortably over the bar.

With three minutes gone, City tried to build their first attack and after a patient move from one side of the field to the other, Croft's attempt to play a one-two with Russell was thwarted on the edge of the area and the pressure on Southampton was relieved when Brellier fouled Rasiak.

Davis came rushing out of the area a minute later to clear into the crowd as Brown pursued a through ball.

There was a very lucky escape for the Saints after just six minutes when Doherty was agonisingly close to his first goal for nearly two years. Lappin swung in a free-kick from the right touchline and Doherty eluded everyone, meeting it with a left foot volley which crashed against the Southampton bar and rebounded clear.

It was an end to end start and when the Saints attacked again, Wright picked out Jones with a teasing cross, but Marshall was right behind the striker's header.

In the ninth minute, City should have done better when Otsemobor was sent racing clear down the right, only to deliver a poor cross which Davis gathered eagerly at the near post.

A free-kick from Safri was then met by a header from Rasiak and it took a clearance from Shackell to clear the danger. Moments later, there was a much more angry reaction for Safri when he caught Russell with a late challenge, but referee Oliver did not deem it worthy of a yellow card and there was hand shake between the two players before play resumed with a free-kick to Norwich.

Another Lappin free-kick was met with a header from Shackell but it lacked power and it was an easy catch for Davis.

Brown, who had been in the wars in recent weeks, suffered another bang on the head from a challenge by Thomas but the referee allowed play to go on.

The Saints won the first corner of the match after 18 minutes when Drury tackled Dyer and the flag kick from Skacel caused Marshall a few problems. He was unable to punch clear cleanly and it was left to Lappin, behind him and almost on the line, to head away. And still the danger was not over and when the ball was returned into the box, Brown was there at the far post to make the clearance.

After 19 minutes Safri found his way into the referee's notebook for a tackle on Lappin which, after his previous indiscretion, was an almost inevitable yellow card.

The Saints threatened again when Dyer wriggled through and fed Viafara, whose shot went into the side netting when he might have done better.

There was a brief delay when Brellier needed attention for a bang on the head on the halfway line, but he was soon able to continue.

Apart from Doherty's early effort, City had not really threatened the Southampton goal and the Saints were having more of the attacking play at this stage.

There was more anger from the home crowd when Safri was again penalised for a foul on Russell, but this time it seemed a fairly innocuous challenge.

With less than half an hour gone, there had already been 13 free-kicks and it was difficult for the game to settle into any sort of pattern.

Brellier was dispossessed in midfield, enabling Southampton to break quickly and Doherty did well to block Rasiak's shot on the edge of the area.

On the half hour, there was a delay while Jones received attention to his right knee and Shackell was shown the yellow card for the challenge.

When play resumed, Doherty aimed a long clearance towards Brown, deep in Southampton territory but Davis gathered the header from the big striker quite easily.

Drury rescued Norwich with a superb tackle on Dyer in his own area after Rasiak had nodded on a cross from Skacel.

City forced their first corner after 33 minutes when Makin conceded it under pressure from Brown. However, Lappin's kick drifted beyond Doherty and the visitors were able to clear their lines.

Marshall came out well, diving at the feet of Surman to snuff out another Southampton attack but with 10 minutes left of the half, the Canaries were really struggling to get their game together.

A superb run by Jones almost gave the Saints the opening goal when he rode several challenges and advanced into the City area where his shot was only partially blocked by Marshall and as the ball trickled through behind him it was left to Drury to clear from close to the goal line at the expense of a corner.

It was a warning of things to come as Marshall struggled to get in a punch from Safri's flag kick and as the ball fell to Jones he found just enough space to squeeze a shot inside Marshall's right hand post to give Southampton the lead.

Shackell rose to head clear from another Safri free-kick as Southampton threatened again and there was a flicker of hope when Russell aimed a raking pass towards Cureton as Norwich counterattacked, but Makin was back first to concede a throw.

Drury was having an excellent match, unlike many of his colleagues, and got back with another important tackle on Jones as the goal scorer moved into the Norwich area once again.

As the half drew to a close, Doherty made two vital interceptions deep in his own area, first with a diving header from a cross from Dyer and then by blocking a shot from Skacel at point blank range.

After the five-goal feast in the first half on Tuesday night, it had been a very different story for the Canaries against much stronger opposition.

In first half injury time, City won a free-kick by the left corner flag when Drury was fouled. Lappin took it, but Doherty's header lacked power.

A high drop kick from Marshall was then aimed towards Cureton but Davis was out quickly to stop the little striker getting on the end of it.

The Canaries made one change at the interval with Fotheringham introduced in midfield, in place of Brellier, who had struggled to make an impact in the opening period.

A poor clearance kick by Marshall gave Viafara the chance to try a first time shot from all of 40-yards in the opening minute of the half, but his effort drifted several yards wide.

Five minutes into the half, the Saints had another opening when Rasiak was put through and produced a shot with the outside of his left foot which Marshall had to beat away one-handed. It was another warning for the Canaries, who were struggling to make any headway of their own.

Rasiak seemed to be permanently in the action and he created enough room for an overhead kick after 52 minutes but it was far too high to give Marshall any problems.

There was drama nine minutes into the half when a free-kick from Safri was headed clear by Russell only as far as Surman, who let fly with an instinctive left foot volley which Marshall appeared to have saved but instead allowed the ball to squirm through his hands behind him and he dived back to grab the ball on the goal line with the Saints appealing for a goal. The ball did not appear to have crossed the line but it was another example of City's jittery display.

The home crowd were doing their best to rouse the Canaries and Fotheringham and Croft almost put Cureton through, only for the ball to be whipped off his toe on the edge of the Southampton area.

The Saints won another corner when Croft challenged Surman but this time Safri's flag kick was headed clear by Russell.

The Canaries levelled the score in unusual circumstances after 61 minutes when Cureton scored his third goal in two home games.

Davis made the fatal mistake of picking up a back pass in the six-yard box and City were awarded an indirect free-kick from a very tight angle but very close in. Fotheringham tapped the ball back to Cureton and he blasted it right footed into the roof of the net over Davis and the Southampton wall.

Two minutes later Cureton almost gave the Canaries the lead when Davis produced a fantastic save to keep out his right-foot shot.

City had suddenly burst into life and Davis rescued the Saints once again when he leapt to his left to palm away a curling free-kick from Fotheringham

In the space of five minutes the stadium was buzzing and Southampton made their first change when Saganowski came on in place of Rasiak.

Midway through the half Russell was shown the yellow card for the second time this season for tugging back Viafara.

Cureton's remarkable return to Carrow Road continued after 70 minutes when he gave them the lead with a simply fantastic finish.

Croft collected the ball on the right from Otsemobor and Croft left footed towards the penalty spot where Cureton controlled it on his chest then swivelled to hit a stunning right foot volley which Davis could only help into the net with one hand.

Before play resumed, the Saints made another change with Hammill replacing Dyer.

The game had turned round dramatically in the space of 10 minutes after Norwich had been second best for most of the opening hour.

As City pressed again, a header from Brown almost set Cureton up but Davis was out quickly to gather.

With just over 15 minutes left, Doherty became the third Canary to be booked for a foul on Saganowski.

It was Southampton who now looked jittery and Brown's persistence earned another corner, conceded by Thomas. Lappin's kick did not reach the near post, however, and the visitors were able to clear quite easily.

There was a hold up while Fotheringham received treatment after tumbling under challenge from Surman. Lappin also appeared to be hobbling a little at this stage. Fotheringham was helped to the touchline for treatment to what looked like a heel injury and City continued for a while with 10 men while Chadwick was stripped off ready to enter the fray.

With eight minutes left, sure enough Chadwick was sent on and City were back to a full 11 but his first contribution was a fairly ambitious shot from outside the area which eventually went out for a throw in.

City made their final change with seven minutes left with Strihavka perhaps surprisingly replacing Cureton.

The Saints made their final change when Wright-Phillips came on in place of Surman.

Croft was enjoying a much better second half and a fine cross set up Chadwick in the six-yard box but the ball became stuck under the substitute's feet and he was unable to get a clean attempt on goal.

Croft then tried his luck with a long range effort that flew wide and moments later he crossed for Russell to head over the bar.

Hammill flashed a right-foot shot wide with three minutes left.

Wright-Phillips weaved his way into Norwich territory, only to shoot wide as the seconds ticked away.

The fourth official signalled four additional minutes to keep the home crowd on the edge of their seats.