Sunday 28 December 2014

Holt caps dramatic Canaries fightback to topple Toffees

Norwich City 2 Everton 1

Published 24/02/2013 | 04:00

Marouane Fellaini battles with Jonny Howson of Norwich City

For Norwich City, the goal drought is over, while Everton's slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League lie in tatters.

For Norwich City, the goal drought is over, while Everton's slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League lie in tatters.

The times on this reporter's Golden Goal ticket were "10:48" or "87:27" but prior to the second-half introduction of Kei Kamara, they might as well have read "March" or "April".

The Sierre Leone refugee scored one and made another to help his side mug Everton, who had gone ahead through Leon Osman.

Before this game, Chris Hughton's side had scored only one goal from their previous six outings.

The return from a back injury of Grant Holt to the Canaries line-up was a source of optimism for home fans and Hughton made a pre-match statement of intent by pairing the footballing fridge up front with Luciano Becchio, making his second start since signing on transfer deadline day.

The Everton manager, David Moyes, also rang the changes, with the fit again Seamus Coleman enabling Phil Jagielka to resume his usual duties at centre-half, with Johnny Heitinga making way from the side that drew with Oldham in the FA Cup.

Further up the right flank, Steven Naismith was preferred to the out of sorts Kevin Mirallas in place of the injured Victor Anichebe.

Lining up in a 4-4-2, with their playmaking Irish trequartista Wes Hoolahan relegated to less glamorous sounding duties on the left wing, the home side started brightly, with one seasoned Norwich-watcher in the press box observing that they created more chances in the opening 20 minutes than they had in their previous 180 worth of endeavour.

The pick of the bunch fell to Robert Snodgrass. Picked out in the penalty area by Hoolahan, it took a last-ditch tackle from Sylvain Distin to send his drive steepling over both the advancing Tim Howard and the crossbar before landing on the roof of the net.

Moments later, a communication breakdown between Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner meant Howard's opposite number Mark Bunn was called into action, rushing out to prostrate himself at the feet of Nikica Jelavic's and smother the Everton striker's close-range effort.

In the 39th minute, it was the goal-shy Croatian to whom Norwich's defenders were drawn like flies to a honey-pot.

Leighton Baines turned provider on the left, leaving Leon Osman with the simple task of heading his side into the lead from a position unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

It was a cruel blow for Norwich. Earlier, their frustrated fans had seen a Howson surface-to-air screamer from distance blocked by the ample back of Holt, who went on to shoot tamely at Howard after being put clean through.

Their tails up courtesy of Osman's strike, Everton turned the screw in the second half.

A low Steven Pienaar drive across the face of goal went uncleared and unconverted, before first Darron Gibson and then Marouane Fellaini shot over. Norwich regained a foothold in a contest that was ebbing away from them with the introduction of Kamara, on loan from the MLS side Sporting Kansas City, for Becchio. He immediately went close, forcing Howard into a smart save with an acrobatic scissors-kick. Minutes later his weak header under pressure trickled inches wide, amid vociferous home protests that their man was being held.

With six minutes to go Kamara could have no such complaints, having been abandoned by Fellaini, who carelessly allowed the substitute to rise unmarked at a corner and thump home a meaty downwards header from six yards.

From then on it was all Norwich, who were rewarded with a winner deep in stoppage time. Once again Kamara rose highest to knock down a cross from the left, which Grant Holt stabbed home from a mere inches.

Observer

Irish Independent

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