Norwich City 2 West Ham 2
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City blew a two-goal lead in a breathless 2-2 Premier League encounter against West Ham at Carrow Road.
Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan looked to have put Alex Neil's men in control just past the hour mark in their battle to beat the drop but Dimitri Payet and Mark Noble's stunning strike pegged them back.
West Ham then laid siege to the home goal in the final quarter but City could have snatched a winner deep in stoppage time when Nathan Redmond's strike was deflected inches wide.
Neil made three changes from the line up that lost 2-0 at Aston Villa. John Ruddy returned for his first Premier League appearance since November 29 in place of Declan Rudd. Redmond was preferred to Youssouf Mulumbu, who was not part of the matchday squad, with Cameron Jerome getting the call up top in preference to either Dieumerci Mbokani or Patrick Bamford.
Former Hammer Matt Jarvis was named on the substitutes' bench against his old club.
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West Ham included key midfielder Payet fresh from signing a new longer term deal at the Boleyn. Andy Carroll was named on the bench for Slaven Bilic's side.
City's intent was clear from the start with Russell Martin thumping a rising shot over 22 yards out inside the opening seconds.
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Hoolahan then pulled out of his central position looking to float a deep cross towards Steven Naismith which ran out of play.
Angelo Ogbonna took evasive action with a clearing near post header from Martin's probing cross as Norwich continued to press.
Brady's rash challenge on Michail Antonio presented the visitors with their first genuine attacking opportunity in the seventh minute but Seb Bassong cleared Payet's free kick.
Enner Valencia's heavy touch spared Norwich in the 11th minute after the frontman was set free by Noble with Brady playing the striker onside.
Ruddy was pressed into action in the 18th minute to tip over Valencia's angled hit with the Hammers' midfield starting to pick out the mobile striker far too easily.
Pedro Obiang slipped at a crucial moment to club a wayward long range shot over but it was evidence of more slick play from the confident visitors.
Norwich finally knocked Bilic's side out of their rhythm when James Collins hacked down Hoolahan in a bid to recover his initial mistake right on the edge of his own penalty area.
Brady stepped up but whipped a 19-yard free kick just over the top of Adrian's bar.
Timm Klose's short pass into a Jerome surrounded by West Ham defenders sparked a counter but Valencia was ruled offside - although it did not spare the Swiss international the verbal wrath of an irate Neil on the touchline.
Obiang was the second Hammer into the referee's book for hauling down Redmond. Sam Byram took emergency action to stop Bassong at the far post meeting Brady's set piece. From a quick corner routine Jonny Howson lashed over on the half-volley from 18 yards.
Naismith was the first home player cautioned for a trip and from Payet's free kick Collins eventually planted a looping close ranger header over.
Bray then threaded a pass through to Naismith with Jerome cleverly leaving the ball but the Scot choked his low strike.
Antonio required treatment in the closing stages of the opening half after landing awkwardly on his right shoulder following an aerial tussle with Brady.
Norwich were now more than competitive but there was still a lack of precision to their attacking work. Jerome burst free in stoppage time before a cut-back Redmond slashed at and then Martin skied over.
The City forward had the first chance of the second period when he clipped a 25-yard effort just wide with Adrian scrambling across his line.
Jerome then raided down the Norwich right before a teasing cross Naismith clearly failed to anticipate as Byram was unable to clear at the far post.
Hoolahan spurned a chance to free the unmarked Jerome but Brady released the tension in the 54th minute when he pounced on Antonio's sluggish touch to shift the ball onto his right and slam a 22-yard shot past Adrian via the underside of the bar.
Bilic made a double change in response with Carroll and Victor Moses replacing the limping Valencia and Alex Song respectively.
But Norwich doubled their lead in the 62nd minute when Naismith's deflected shot spiralled into the path of Hoolahan who guided a low, right-footed finish first time beyond Adrian.
Ruddy was required to parry Antonio's scuffed effort at the opposite end before Brady completed a desperate clearance with the Hammers' frantically probing for a sharp riposte.
But the visitors did hit back in the 74th minute when Moses surged forward before riding challenges from Brady and Klose to test Ruddy, who parried the ball out to the waiting Payet to guide back into the empty net.
Martin Olsson replaced Naismith in the aftermath but the Hammers were level in the 76th minute when Noble crashed an unstoppable 18-yard shot into the top corner of Ruddy's net from Payet's cut-back.
City looked dazed in the aftermath but there was some relief when Obiang was adjudged to have chopped through Hoolahan to win the ball just outside the Hammers' penalty area - but Brady's free kick had too much loft in clearing Adrian's bar.
Moses then cut back inside Martin in the 84th minute but curled well over before Emmanuel Emenike was a yard from connecting with Payet's tempting cross after the Frenchman had again escaped detection.
Emenike then held off Bassong but smashed a 16-yard shot over after latching onto Carroll's flick.
City had another let-off in the first of five additional minutes when the off-balance Emenike stabbed weakly at Ruddy who dropped on the ball from another Carroll flick.
Payet's dipping free kick went straight to Ruddy after Howson was the latest booked for hauling down Moses.
But remarkably given the Hammers' incessant pressure, Norwich could have won the game deep into stoppage time when Redmond's guided close-range finish was deflected wide.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Klose, Bassong, Brady, Howson, O'Neil, Redmond, Hoolahan (Dorrans 85), Naismith (Olsson 76), Jerome (Mbokani 84). Subs (not used): Rudd, Pinto, Jarvis, Bamford.
• Bookings: Naismith (foul on Byram, 33); Howson (foul on Moses, 90)
• Goals: Brady (54), Hoolahan (65)
• West Ham: Adrian, Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Song (Moses 62), Noble, Obiang, Antonio (Emenike 70), Payet, Valencia (Carroll 62). Subs (not used): Randolph, Oxford, Browne, Parfitt-Williams.
• Bookings: Collins (foul on Hoolahan, 23); Obiang (foul on Redmond, 32)
• Goals: Payet (74), Noble (76)
• Added on time: 3 minutes / 5 minutes
• Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)
• Attendance: 27,101