Paul Lambert hails Norwich City’s ‘best performance’

Paul Lambert hailed the 'best performance' of his Carrow Road reign in yesterday's superb 2-1 Premier League win at Champions League-chasing Tottenham.

Elliott Bennett's first top flight goal helped secure a major scalp at White Hart Lane to cap a fantastic Easter after the club's Carrow Road draw against Spurs' fellow FA Cup semi-finalists Everton on Saturday.

Bennett's stunning right-footer left Brad Friedel stranded to settle another pulsating contest after England international Jermain Defoe had cancelled out Anthony Pilkington's first half opener.

'It was the best performance in the three years I've been here. That's the magnitude of it,' said Lambert.

'I thought we were brilliant, right from the off. It was a hard game. We're up against a side who want to be playing Champions League football. It was incredible, really, really incredible. They're a fabulous side, Tottenham. A top side, top manager with everything going for them. They've got some world class players.

'They came a few months ago to Norwich and it was a really hard time. We changed the team around a little bit to give the lads a rest from the Everton game and with Manchester City in mind, but we've been playing really well, the football we've been playing has been excellent and I think you can see we went for it.'

Pilkington marked his return from a recent hamstring injury with an incisive outing down the left more than matched by Bennett's display on the opposite flank.

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'Pilks was excellent,' said Lambert. 'He's got great delivery of a football and he hasn't even played Championship football. I thought (Antonio) Valencia's goal against Blackburn was top drawer, but that was an absolute bullet from Benno. They deserve all the praise that's coming to them. I'm proud as anything of them – every one of them.'

City's latest win was not without fresh refereeing controversy, after Michael Oliver turned down strong appeals for a Norwich penalty seconds before Defoe's equaliser when Holt was clearly bundled to the ground by Tottenham captain Ledley King.

'That wouldn't have looked out of place at Murrayfield, that tackle,' said Lambert. 'How he's missed that, I don't know. Everyone in the ground saw that. My own view was that was a penalty, but we didn't get it and we got hurt the other end. I thought (Aaron) Wilbraham's was one as well in the second half – I'd like to see if that was in the penalty box. It's bizarre.'

City's win moved them back inside the Premier League top 10 and 15 points clear of the current bottom three with the teams at the bottom having just six games left to play. Lambert insists Norwich will strive to stay there – but the Norwich chief is making no promises.

'Top 10? I don't worry about that. I just want to be safe,' he said. 'I can see the headline now, 'Lambert says we want the Champions League.' We've won a game of football against a fabulous side, but I just want to try and survive. We'll try and finish as high up as we can. We've beaten a top four side, which is incredible for us away from home. I have targets in my head. The obstacles I've put in front of my lads they've always jumped them. If you sit back and analyse it, it's ridiculous what's happened here.'

City keeper John Ruddy produced a brilliant save to deny Benoit Assou-Ekotto when the scores were still level. Lambert sees no reason why the former Everton stopper and several of his team should not earn international recognition.

'Ruddy has been playing like that for two years. He's on top of his game,' said Lambert.

'People are going to clamour for him with England, but you could do a lot worse than look at him, the way he is playing and with the workrate he has got.'

The Norwich boss continued: 'On merit and the way the team are playing, maybe people should look at them. I don't want people to dismiss them as being at 'little old Norwich'. They have earned the right to make a name for themselves.'

n City will be represented by a young side when they travel to take on Bolton in the Premier Reserve League this evening (7pm).