Norwich City 3, West Ham 1
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's stirring second half fightback secured a priceless Premier League win against West Ham at Carrow Road on Saturday evening.
The mounting pressure around Chris Hughton looked set to increase when Ravel Morrison fired the visitors into a deserved half-time lead after a lacklustre showing from the hosts but Gary Hooper smashed home a 54th minute penalty after Jussi Jaaskelainen had spilled under pressure from Michael Turner before hauling down the former Celtic striker in his desperation to re-gather the ball. Robert Snodgrass then curled a sublime free kick past the stranded keeper before Leroy Fer wrapped up a vital win in stoppage time to move City out of the bottom three ahead of the international break.
Hughton made three changes to the line up that imploded at Manchester City. Seb Bassong was replaced by Ryan Bennett alongside the ever-present Turner at the centre of the Canaries' defence. Snodgrass returned after missing the trip to the Etihad with the after effects of concussion suffered in the Capital One Cup exit at Manchester United and Johan Elmander was deployed as the link man to Hooper. Bradley Johnson and Steven Whittaker made way, with both joined on the home substitutes' bench by Nathan Redmond. The teenage midfielder was omitted from England's Under-21s squad for upcoming Uefa European Championship qualifiers earlier in the week but proved his fitness to Hughton in the build up to the Hammers' visit. Sam Allardyce again named a line up without any recognised forwards with Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga left in reserve.
City's intent was obvious from the opening seconds with Anthony Pilkington bursting inside Guy Demel to collect Snodgrass' shovel pass but Jaaskelainen blocked at his near post before James Collins cleared the rebound. Elmander and Hooper then linked for the first time but the striker's reverse pass was anticipated by James Tomkins. The Swede tried to return the favour but the ball squirted through to Jaaskelainen on the slick surface.
The Hammers' threat on the counter was cler to see with Morrison and Stewart Downing leading dangerous breakouts that Norwich managed to nullify without John Ruddy's intervention. Fer's kamikaze pass across his own box was intercepted by Razvan Rat who slammed wide, but referee Jon Moss dragged the play back following Turner's desperate challenge at the concession of a free kick just outside the home penalty area. Downing's free kick struck the Norwich wall but the Canaries were indebted to Ruddy shortly afterwards when he denied the advancing Kevin Nolan after City were cut out before Martin Olsson threw himself in front of Downing's goalbound hit. Demel then crashed a near post header against Ruddy's bar from the resulting corner with Hughton's fragile troops now decidedly second best after a bright start. Elmander released the pressure when he rose above Collins for Hooper to gather and service Snodgrass, but Rat funnelled back to deflect the ball behind for a corner City were unable to fashion into a threat on Jaaskelainen's goal.
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Rat led the break out again for the Hammers midway through the opening period but Nolan could only tamely sidefoot at Ruddy from 10 yards. Morrison rifled the Hammers deservedly ahead in the 32nd minute from close range after Ruddy initially denied Nolan, before the visitors' skipper retrieved the ball tight to the byline to roll in the unmarked youngster. Redmond was introduced for Pilkington in the immediate aftermath with the Republic of Ireland international clearly labouring for a prolonged spell prior to the goal following an early collision with Demel.
Norwich's inability to muster any real threat within the Hammers' final third was underlined when Redmond's hopeful swinging strike veered away five minutes before the interval and the half-time reaction from the home fans was entirely in keeping with the hosts' fitful efforts.
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Hughton opted not to make any personnel changes at the interval and there was little discernible sign of any change in the urgency levels from his side until Elmander sprayed a crossfield ball for Snodgrass but Hooper's attempted reverse pass drifted aimlessly towards a posse of Hammers' defenders. Turner earned a yellow card for a mistimed lunge on Joe Cole 20 yards out but Morrison's set piece clipped the top of the home wall. Snodgrass and Russell Martin combined to drive City further up the pitch with Tomkins shovelling the ball behind but City were given a precious lifeline when Hooper levelled from the penalty spot in the 54th minute after the striker was upended by Jaaskelainen. The West Ham keeper protested his innocence after trying to recover the ball after spilling Snodgrass' cross under pressure from Turner but referee Moss was adamant. Collins then hooked wide at the opposite end after Bennett could only partially clear Noble's deep free kick. Redmond drove at Demel but Jaaskelainen gathered at his near post. Fer tried his luck with limited success from Hooper's set up but there was now an undeniable sense of renewed optimism following the air of resignation that had engulfed Carrow Road for the opening hour.
Collins did enough to take the sting out of Hooper's header eight yards out after Snodgrass teased Rat before standing up an inviting cross. Howson smashed against the bar from fully 25 yards in the 70th minute after Fer had picked Noble's pocket in central midfield but even better was to come when Snodgrass' delicious free kick nestled inside Jaaskelainen's left-hand post. The Scottish international raced away with both hands cupped behind his ears in a little message to the doubters after being heavily criticised in certain quarters during previous home games. City surged forward in the minutes that followed with Fer's cute step over freeing Hooper who drilled at the Hammers' keeper. Fer then climbed highest but was unable to direct Snodgrass' hanging corner on target with Norwich striving to put the game beyond doubt. Ruddy remained alert to gather Mohamed Diame's deflected low hit as City tried to navigate the final ten minutes with few alarms. Elmander swivelled away from Demel but lashed wide after gathering Snodgrass' intended ball for Hooper. The Scot then miscued horribly on his left peg seven yards out in the 87th minute after Redmond led a rapier counter. The youngster then skied over in the first seconds of stoppage time following Snodgrass' clever swivel in central midfield, but Fer's cool slot to seal the win after riding the challenge of Tomkins sparked wild scenes of celebration within the vicinity of Hughton's technical area.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bennett, Turner, Olsson, Snodgrass, Fer, Howson, Pilkington (Redmond 32), Elmander, Hooper (Johnson 87). Subs (not used): Bunn, Whittaker, Bassong, Hoolahan, Becchio.
• Booking: Turner (foul on J Cole, 50)
• Goals: Hooper (54), Snodgrass (72), Fer (90)
• West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, Rat, Collison (C Cole 74), Nolan, Morrison, Noble (Jarvis 87), Downing, J Cole (Diame 72). Subs (not used): Adrian, McCartney, Maiga, O'Brien.
• Booking: Nolan (dissent 72)
• Goal: Morrison (32)
• Added on time: 3 minutes / 3 minutes
• Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorks)
• Attendance: 26,824