Norwich City have the X factor

Norwich 3, Blackburn 3: If you could bottle what Paul Lambert, his coaching staff and players seemingly possess in abundance you could make a fortune.

Talent. Undoubtedly. The Premier League is no place for what Eric Cantona once unflatteringly labelled countryman and World Cup-winning captain Didier Deschamps. A water carrier. On or off the pitch, you must have been blessed with attributes good enough to flourish in the most competitive, most globally watched, biggest revenue-generating domestic league on the planet. You need to be able to pass it, head it, tackle, shoot and all the other constituent parts that make a modern-day Premier League footballer. But talent alone only gets you so far in life. You need hard work. You need application – the desire to harness that ability to maximise your potential.

Sir Alex Ferguson once said his all-conquering sides of the 1990s were not just the best footballers, they also worked the hardest. A midfield of Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham in their collective pomp would be worth telephone numbers in the current inflated transfer marketplace. Barcelona is the best club side bar none at present. Next time they play, just watch what they do in the rare moments when they are out of possession as opposed to the mesmeric patterns they weave with the ball.

City's squad have that particular gene in abundance. You don't leave the lower reaches of the Football League without it. But against Blackburn in a glorious last stand at Carrow Road they reprised the fabled dramatic finale that became indelibly linked to the club's Championship promotion surge last season. If Norwich's marketing team have not looked into a Christmas DvD of 2011 great escapes they are missing a serious merchandising trick.

Blackburn's players looked shell shocked as they kicked off again following Grant Holt's nerveless penalty success deep, deep into added on time. They shouldn't. Every opposition scouting report on the Canaries needs to include the phrases belief, character, heart. By themselves they are just empty words on a page.

City prefer deeds. A squad cast in the image of a manager who in his own decorated playing days left the comfortable surroundings of football in his homeland to become the first British player to lift the Champions League with a continental club before returning to Germany to begin his first steps on the coaching path which eventually led to the Norwich dugout.

Lambert had both the talent and the application as a player. Nothing has changed since his seamless move into management. But Lambert's heritage alone only can carry Norwich so far. The Scot can urge, cajole, demand even from the technical area. His players have to deliver.

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Blackburn's display at Carrow Road laid to rest the fallacy you can target games in the top flight. Rovers arrived propping up the rest led by a young manager facing a growing supporter-led revolt. Yet they were every bit as difficult as Liverpool at Anfield the previous weekend. City may not have played as well on home soil as they did at the former European champions. Perhaps they weren't allowed to. Blackburn set the early tempo in stark contrast to Norwich's previous Carrow Road outing when Swansea were rocked backwards in a potent opening ten minutes. Yakubu may lack the mobility, but he has plenty of Premier League nous. The Nigerian offers a brooding presence up front. A pivot for the likes of Mauro Formica, Ruben Rochina and Junior Hoilett to play in and around.

The men from Ewood Park possess a powerful, streetwise spine to their side. Paul Robinson may have retired from the international stage but he remains one of England's best. Reference a superb one-handed stop to foil David Fox's goalbound half volley in the first period. Chris Samba and Steven Nzonzi dwarfed their opposite numbers – both in stature and at times during Rovers' best spells.

Norwich struggled for territorial dominance. Anthony Pilkington looked the most productive outlet down the left. Elliott Bennett fizzed down the right; their direct Rovers' counterparts were more than a match. Rochina cut inside to craft a diagonal ball cushioned by Yakubu. The finish failed to match the control as home fans in the Lower Barclay ducked for cover.

Wes Hoolahan's growing influence helped City establish a measure of parity. The Irishman's partnership with Steve Morison is a work in progress. But the shoots are starting to blossom. Hoolahan was first to react to Morison's knockdowns on numerous occasions. One change of play for Pilkington ended with Bradley Johnson's miscued header. Another flick from the Welshman was gathered and fed into Johnson's path but the England hopeful lashed over. The signs were encouraging. Pilkington's measured cutback rolled invitingly towards Bennett. Every second it took to reach the former Brighton man narrowed the angle. The impressive Rochina dragged a left footer wide of John Ruddy's far post in the shadow of half-time. Less a warning; more an advance raiding party. Kyle Naughton shepherded Hoilett inside only for the Canadian to brutally prove Pilkington was not the only two-footed wide player on show.

City needed an early reply after the interval to avoid another West Brom day in the sunshine when Norwich had been lethargic, even disjointed at times against the Baggies back in September. Morison dispelled any fears with a thumping right footer from the edge of the area.

Rovers in their current predicament may have chosen the easy option. To fold. It's a testament to their faith in Kean the experienced players stood up. Yakubu's swerving strike beat Ruddy at his near post. Not the big man's finest hour. But lest we forget the 25-year-old's heroics had saved Norwich seven days previous. Lambert put a consoling arm around the keeper at the final whistle; you didn't need to be a lip reader to know what that brief conversation was about. The perils of the last line of defence.

Ruddy had no chance when Samba shook off Leon Barnett's attentions to power home Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick two minutes later. Kean led the celebrations. They were to prove premature in the extreme.

City were in uncharted territory. Two goals in arrears at home for the first time this season. Time to send for the captain of the ship. Grant Holt. A tour de force of energy and raw power harnessed alongside Morison that terrorised Blackburn's backline for the final quarter. Holt's first flick set up Naughton to drill over. His second touch was hacked to safety by Gael Givet on the six yard line. His third struck Barnett at point blank range and dropped fortunately at Robinson's feet.

Holt was the life support. City responded. Vocal encouragement rained down from the terraces whilst the players called on the spirit of Derby. Johnson's deflected shot deceived Robinson. Norwich under Lambert need little encouragement to go for the jugular. Kean must have started to shift uneasily in his technical area.

Simeon Jackson just failed to control Andrew Crofts' chip in the first of five stoppage time minutes. That would have been the cue for home fans in other grounds to head for the exits. For other managers to ready their hard luck stories to present to the waiting media. Not Norwich. Not Lambert. Holt coaxed a rash challenge from the eager Jason Lowe. Johnson flighted the free kick to the back post. Nzonzi was jammed between Holt and Morison. Disorientated, the Frenchman turned to see the ball strike his arm. Players and fans appealed in unison. Referee Taylor pointed to the spot.

Rovers complained of rough justice. City know exactly how that feels this season. Yet Holt still had to win his personal duel with Robinson. Given the circumstances, the execution was sublime.

It had to be as Robinson went full length to his left. Holt's penalty brushed the side netting. Norwich's number nine ran away to salute the Barclay. In exactly the same direction Jackson scarpered following his promotion-defining goal against the Rams way back in April.

The parallels were glaringly obvious. The Canaries have swapped Football League for Premier League – but those same imperceptible qualities have safely made the same journey. Just don't waste time trying to work them out.