Friday 9 December 2016

Norwich crash to Premier League relegation despite victory over Watford

Published 11/05/2016 | 21:46

Nathan Redmond scored twice but it was in vain for Norwich
Nathan Redmond scored twice but it was in vain for Norwich

Norwich were relegated from the Premier League despite Nathan Redmond inspiring a 4-2 win over Watford at Carrow Road.

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The Canaries ended a four-match scoreless run with goals from Redmond, Dieumerci Mbokani - who scored twice - and a Craig Cathcart own goal.

But it was too little, too late. Sunderland's victory over Everton rendered the Canaries' ninth win of the season - and third in 17 games - irrelevant as Alex Neil's side joined Newcastle and Aston Villa in being demoted.

Watford scored early goals in either half, with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo on target.

The Hornets and Bournemouth were promoted alongside Norwich last season and they survive. Norwich are down.

Norwich fans sang in support of manager Alex Neil, who has the board's backing, while Quique Sanchez Flores' future at Watford remains uncertain amid reports he will be replaced.

David McNally resigned as Norwich chief executive after last Saturday's loss to Manchester United, with some blaming City's plight on a lack of strengthening following their success in the Championship play-offs 12 months ago.

But individual errors have punctuated Norwich's season and there was another as Deeney put the visitors ahead.

Deeney met a long ball forward, nodding down for Ighalo. John Ruddy failed to gather the loose ball and Deeney tucked in. A resigned silence fell on Carrow Road.

The lead lasted four minutes as Redmond set about showing he is top-flight class.

The winger played a one-two with Steven Naismith and drilled the ball through Heurelho Gomes' legs.

Having ended a 375-minute wait for a Norwich goal, another followed three minutes later when Redmond cut inside on the left and shot across goal. The ball rebounded off the post for Mbokani to tuck in.

Next Redmond fired wide from the edge of the area and soon after he jinked inside and prodded the ball against the post.

Martin Olsson had scored Norwich's most recent goal prior to kick-off - with a stoppage-time winner in a 3-2 defeat of Newcastle on April 2 - and had a long-range effort which Gomes saved at full stretch.

Wes Hoolahan, who was a fine second foil to Redmond, tried repeatedly to craft a third and did so after 37 minutes.

Allan Nyom slipped attempting to intercept Redmond's ball to Hoolahan, who crossed and Cathcart diverted the ball into his own net.

Norwich supporters were jubilant, but no sooner had they dared to dream of the great escape than news filtered through that Sunderland had scored.

The Norwich players were made aware of their predicament, too, when Watford's fans sang of the score at the Stadium of Light.

They continued to push forwards and Naismith and Hoolahan were denied by Gomes before Norwich were applauded off at half-time.

Watford pulled a goal back when Deeney crossed and Ighalo side-footed in, to end a 12-match scoreless run in the Premier League.

News of Sunderland taking a 3-0 lead followed, before Norwich's fourth.

Redmond and Mbokani combined and the striker stayed onside before lifting the ball over Gomes.

"Ipswich Town, we're coming for you" sang the Norwich faithful, trying to take the positives.

The night threatened to end as it had begun. Ruddy fumbled a Deeney shot before gathering it at the second attempt. But there was to be no recovery for Norwich.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Er...@NorwichCityFC where's this display been for 8 months? It'll only increase my annoyance if we win so well on the night we get relegated" - Norwich fan and BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey).

PLAYER RATINGS

Norwich

John Ruddy: 5 (out of 10)

Ivo Pinto: 6

Russell Martin: 6

Ryan Bennett: 6

Martin Olsson: 6

Graham Dorrans: 7

Gary O'Neil: 7

Nathan Redmond: 8

Dieumerci Mbokani: 8

Wes Hoolahan: 8

Steven Naismith: 6

Substitutes

Robbie Brady (for Hoolahan, 72 minutes): 6

Matt Jarvis (for Redmond, 80): 5

Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe (for Naismith, 82): 5

Watford

Heurelho Gomes: 5

Allan Nyom: 5

Craig Cathcart: 5

Miguel Britos: 5

Ikechi Anya: 5

Mario Suarez: 6

Ben Watson: 5

Almen Abdi: 6

Odion Ighalo: 7

Troy Deeney: 8

Jose Manuel Jurado: 5

Substitutes

Nathan Ake (for Nyom, 46): 6

Steven Berghuis (for Jurado, 54): 5

Adlene Guedioura (for Watson, 72): 5

STAR PLAYER

Redmond. Scored Norwich's first goal in more than six hours and almost six weeks, twice hit the post and laid on another goal. A fine display from a man who will surely be in demand this summer.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Norwich went 3-1 up when Cathcart diverted the ball into his own net, but soon news filtered through of a goal at Sunderland and silence descended. There was also some gallows humour from the Norwich fans as they clung to the positives of relegation, a chant of "Ipswich Town, we're coming for you".

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Neil made four changes, one enforced as Norwich's player of the year Jonny Howson suffered a season-ending knee injury in last Saturday's loss to Manchester United. Sebastien Bassong was dumped after his error which led to the decisive goal, Cameron Jerome after an ineffective showing up front and Robbie Brady as the Canaries sought more guile. In came Dorrans, Bennett, Mbokani and Naismith. Watford made once change following the loss at Liverpool, with Sebastian Prodl on the bench and Allan Nyom coming in at right-back. The more positive approach reaped rewards for Norwich.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Norwich showed their ability, but left it to the penultimate game of the season. The Canaries have performed too infrequently to deserve to stay up.

WHO'S UP NEXT

Everton v Norwich (Barclays Premier League, Sunday, May 15)

Watford v Sunderland (Barclays Premier League, Sunday, May 15)

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