Norwich City 4, West Bromwich Albion 0: Canaries clinch Premier League survival in style
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City clinched Premier League survival in emphatic style with their biggest victory of the season as they ran West Bromwich Albion ragged in the final home game of 2012-13 at Carrow Road.
The stadium was rocking from start to finish as the Canaries sealed the win that booked them another season in the top flight, ending weeks of uncertainty over just when they would secure safety.
Robert Snodgrass gave Chris Hughton's team an interval lead, and two goals in three minutes in the second period gave them an unassailable lead, Grant Holt making it 2-0 and a Gareth McAuley own goal adding to Albion's misery.
Jonny Howson wrapped up victory with a magnificent goal in the final minute and City were given a tumultuous reception at the final whistle.
Snodgrass struck first on 25 minutes after Albion keeper Ben Foster had parried a Wes Hoolahan effort.
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Holt scored possibly the easiest goal of his career after 62 minutes, rolling the ball home after Foster kicked thin air, and McAuley's fourth own goal playing against Norwich came when he headed in a Snodgrass free-kick.
Howson's goal came after a one-two with former Leeds team-mate Luciano Becchio, on as a late substitute for Holt.
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Albion were poor in the first half, hapless in the second and were completely swept away by a City side determined to book their top-flight ticket once again.
England international John Ruddy was recalled in goal, 24 weeks after suffering a thigh injury in the 1-1 draw at Everton, with Mark Bunn dropping to the bench.
It was the only change to the side that started the 2-1 home defeat by Aston Villa eight days earlier.
Becchio was drafted in on the substitutes' bench in place of Kei Kamara, who returned to the USA after the end of his loan spell.
West Bromwich boss Steve Clarke made five changes after the 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Tuesday night, with recalls for goalkeeper Foster, defensive trio Steven Reid, McAuley and Goran Popov, and striker Shane Long.
There was not the traditional presentation of the player of the season trophy before kick-off for those fans who had taken the trouble to vote, but former players Terry Allcock, Bill Punton, Adam Drury and Simon Lappin were presented to the crowd.
The two teams were given a tremendous reception as they took the field, Albion wearing a change kit of red rather than their traditional blue and white stripes.
City threatened in the opening minute when Martin fed Snodgrass on the right, but his cross was slightly overhit as Holt moved into the six-yard box.
It was a bright and very noisy start and the Canaries forced a corner in the fourth minute, with the kick by Snodgrass headed clear by Long.
Reid came to the rescue when he headed clear from a Snodgrass cross with Pilkington waiting to cash in.
Pilkington forced City's second corner with 12 minutes gone, but as the kick came over from Snodgrass, Holt was penalised by referee Webb, though it seemed vary harsh.
Pilkington and Snodgrass swapped flanks briefly but soon reverted to their original roles with the Scot on the right, and he worked his way deep into the Albion area before finally being crowded out by Yacob and Olsson.
With 24 minutes gone, City produced their best effort yet with Pilkington finding space to strike a powerful left-foot shot that Foster beat away, forcing Olsson to concede a corner.
One minute later they went ahead when Snodgrass scored his seventh goal of the season. Holt crossed from the right, Ryan Bennett won the header and Hoolahan tried to flick the ball over Foster, the keeper smothering it but Snodgrass keeping his head to fire left-footed into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
A deafening noise greeted the goal, which was due reward for the Canaries' very positive start.
Ruddy had not been tested on his recall, but came out well to claim a cross from Rosenberg on the half-hour.
Albion won a corner on 34 minutes when Lukaku's cross was diverted out, but the kick from Rosenberg was overhit and drifted out on the far side.
Bassong blocked a shot by Rosenberg as Albion broke again, finally spurred into life by City's goal.
Johnson was penalised for a foul on Mulumbu, but Reid curled the free-kick straight into Ruddy's hands.
Hoolahan produced a brilliant effort on 41 minutes when Olsson misjudged an attempt to head clear and he pounced on the loose ball, letting fly from more than 20 yards with a shot Foster tipped over the top with a fine save.
There were appeals for a penalty when Olsson appeared to handle from the resulting corner by Snodgrass, but referee Webb was very well placed and waved them away.
City forced a corner as the first half entered stoppage time, with Pilkington's kick headed away by Long.
Striker Long was caught by a Howson challenge as Albion counter-attacked and when the attack finally broke down, Howson was shown the yellow card.
• Half-time : Norwich City 1, West Bromwich Albion 0
Albion made a double change at the break, with Brunt replacing Rosenberg and Jones replacing Reid.
They were quickly on the attack with Lukaka scuffing a shot wide in the opening seconds of the half.
Pilkington kicked thin air from six yards out when he might have extended City's lead, and Olsson was booked three minutes into the half for bringing down Holt on the edge of the Albion area, but the free-kick by Snodgrass was fired straight into the wall.
Lukaku wasted a good break by Albion by sending his cross into the crowd, which rather summed up their afternoon so far.
A free-kick given for a foul by McAuley on Holt ended with Hoolahan volleying a long way wide.
Snodgrass squandered a good opening when he over-elaborated after weaving his way into the Albion area, and City really should have been further ahead, such was their dominance.
Foster dropped a cross by Johnson, but City were unable to get in a shot as Albion scrambled the ball away.
Holt dived in to head wide from a Snodgrass cross, taking a knock in the process.
But he was back on his feet and celebrating moments later when his seventh goal of the season made it 2-0 - and it was a disaster for Albion keeper Foster.
Holt produced a deflt flick from Martin's through-ball to find Hoolahan, who delivered a wonderful pass into the skipper's path with Olsson alongside. Olsson left it for Foster to deal with but the keeper kicked thin air, leaving Holt to walk the ball into the net.
Ruddy saved from Morrison as Albion tried to cut the deficit but it was party time moments later when the Canaries went three goals ahead, courtesy of an own goal.
Snodgrass took the free-kick from the right and Ryan Bennett jumped to meet it, but defender McAuley appeared to get the final touch to head past Foster.
It was McAuley's fourth own goal playing against Norwich, the last of them when he was in the Ipswich side beaten 5-1 at Portman Road in 2011, and Albion were in total disarray.
Hoolahan was booked for a trip on Long, and Ruddy was brought into action again when he saved a low cross-shot from Jones.
Ruddy saved easily from Long as Albion tried to reduce the deficit.
City boss Hughton made a double change with 13 minutes to go as Tettey replaced Hoolahan and Elliott Bennett was sent on for Snodgrass.
Odemwingie was the final Albion substitute when he replaced Lukaku after 81 minutes.
Only a fine save by Foster, diving to his right, denied Pilkington goal number four two minutes later.
Elliott Bennett forced Olsson to concede a corner and as City waited to take it, Becchio was sent on for Holt.
Howson wrapped up victory in the final minute with a magnificent fourth goal. The midfielder played a one-two with Becchio before curling in a superb shot that gave Foster no chance. It was Howson's first goal of the season.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Ryan Bennett, Bassong, Garrido; Howson, Johnson; Snodgrass (Elliott Bennett, 77), Hoolahan (Tettey, 77), Pilkington; Holt (Becchio, 86). Subs (not used): Bunn, Whittaker, Barnett, Jackson.
• West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Reid (Jones, 45), McAuley, Olsson; Morrison, Mulumbu, Yacob, Popov; Rosenberg (Brunt, 45), Long, Lukaku (Odemwingie, 81). Subs (not used): Myhill, Ridgewell, Tamas, Dorrans.
• Referee : Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
• Attendance: 26,837
• Goals: City: Snodgrass (25), Holt (62), McAuley (og, 65), Howson (90).
• Bookings: City: Howson (45), Hoolahan (71). Albion: Olsson (48)