sábado, 10 de diciembre de 2011

Norwich City 4 - 2 Newcastle United

Newcastle United arrived with a depleted XI and finished with only 10 men, heading away from Carrow Road into what could be a long winter.

Just after the hour, six minutes of chaos for the visitors ended with Dan Gosling's red card for leaving a boot on Russell Martin's foot, following strikes from Grant Holt and Steve Morison that had taken Norwich City into a two‑goal lead.

Alan Pardew said of his midfielder's sending off: "I've just reviewed it – I don't think he's gone to hurt the player but he's late for sure so he's put himself in the ballpark of being sent off and that's unfortunate as at that point we were right in the game. So its disappointing."

The injured list of Pardew's early season high-flyers numbered Cheik Tioté, Danny Guthrie, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor, causing the manager to shift James Perch and Danny Simpson, full-backs by trade, into central defence. From the Famous Five rearguard that started every Premier League game before this one, Taylor, due to a season-ending achilles injury, and Coloccini (a thigh problem) were missing. Pardew, quaintly, blamed Mike Dean not sending off David Luiz in Chelsea's 3-0 win at Newcastle last weekend for the injuries to Taylor and Guthrie (the midfielder suffered a groin strain), claiming that less exertion is required against 10 men.

Paul Lambert said Norwich had not specifically targeted the vulnerability of Simpson and company. However, Pardew said: "Well, I think that's fairly obvious – to have three first-team centre-halves missing [including Mike Williamson] is unusual. Even to, say, Manchester United – if you lose Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling you're going to have a problem.

"I thought we did very well other than the set plays today defensively. Grant Holt and Steve Morison are a handful, with Wes Hoolahan in behind."

City's opener arrived on 38 minutes from Hoolahan after Tim Krul was adjudged (wrongly) to have taken a cross over for a corner. Pardew said: "I'm not going to offer excuses but certainly Tim just caught it where he was. He didn't take it out. So if it was out it must have been a goal-kick."

From the ensuing corner, the set-piece difficulties he mentioned occurred. Andrew Surman floated in the delivery, up rose Andrew Crofts. His header was saved by Krul, but when the ball hit Wesley Hoolahan, it trickled in.

This hushed the travelling support, but not for long. United's equaliser derived from the classic sucker-punch. Yohan Cabaye flipped a training ground ball over the Norwich defence and with balletic touch Demba Ba killed it and finished beyond John Ruddy.

Pardew's patched up defence had dealt with incoming artillery adequately for most of the first half. But following those goals in the 59 and 63 minutes, the match moved away from the visitors.

First Holt crashed home. David Fox played a one-two with Hoolahan from a corner and from his cross the No9's first header was saved by Krul before, from the rebound, he finished.

"We love Grant Holt," the Canary fans sang, although they put it a little stronger than that. Two minutes later they had fallen for his strike partner, Morison. Crofts delivered a ball from the right and the forward headed home.

Gosling's early departure for the challenge on Martin appeared to have killed the game but after Zak Whitbread dawdled, Shola Ameobi pick-pocketed the defender on the right. He stroked the ball to Ba, whose lethal left foot made it 3-2. This kept the contest interesting until Holt confirmed a valuable three points for the Canaries on 82 minutes with his second strike.

Lambert said: "I thought we deserved to win the game. They are a really good side, they've been doing very well in the league of late, they are a threat up front but we played very well."

Regarding his captain, who now has six from 14 outings this season, the manager added: "Holt is as important as he was two years ago when I joined. Him and Morison were excellent today."

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