Baggies find form to end Norwich's hot streak
West Brom 2
Norwich city 1
Published 23/12/2012 | 05:00
West Brom boss Steve Clarke is predicting a big future for on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku following his late winner in their 2-1 home success over Norwich. The Chelsea player headed home a deep cross from Baggies left-back Goran Popov with eight minutes remaining for his sixth goal of the campaign.
It was a rare start for Lukaku, who has been kept out of the side for most of the season by leading scorer Shane Long. But he justified his selection as his goal ended Norwich's 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and lifted Albion back into the top six.
"Romelu has done well, he is a big talent, he has got a big future ahead of him in the game," said Clarke. "The fact he couldn't get in the team for most of the season is down to the form of Shane Long who shouldn't be forgotten today.
"Shane made a difference when he came onto the pitch, he tied up the other centre-back, has given a bit more space to Romelu, and maybe that's why he has got the space for the winning goal. It's a team effort and we don't like to single out individuals."
However, the West Brom manager was non-committal when asked whether Chelsea will recall Lukaku in January.
"He is on a season-long loan but there is an opportunity for the parent club to take him back in January," said Clarke. "I can't affect it so I don't like to talk about it."
Clarke also felt Albion were below their best in securing their first win in five games, "It was another performance where we were a bit scratchy. We are not quite flowing as we were early in the season," he said. "When you are coming in after four games without a win, there comes a bit more pressure on it. We spoke about it before the game. It was a big game for us today and it was important we got the three points."
Norwich manager Chris Hughton felt his side deserved a share of the spoils and was unhappy with the award of a corner for the first Albion goal from Zoltan Gera just before half-time, which cancelled out Robert Snodgrass's 23rd-minute opener.
"I think we should have got a point on the balance of play. Albion are a good footballing team, at home, so you know they are going to have a percentage of possession," said Hughton.
"But I thought we had good spells in the game where we had real good possession, certainly for an away team. There weren't many clear-cut chances and it was even and we deserved to come away with something.
"The first goal was frustrating because they are a threat from set-plays and disappointing as it shouldn't have been a corner in the first place and was a goal-kick. The timing of the goal gave them the lift they needed.
"We've been on a fabulous run and it's now how we react to losing. To be unbeaten for that number of games is a fair feat and testament to the group of lads. At some stage we were going to lose and it has to be about the next game."
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