Saturday 16 December 2017

Canaries flying in thriller

Swansea 3
Norwich 4

Joe Lovejoy

So much for reputations. Swansea were acclaimed as the 'Great Entertainers' after outplaying Arsenal at the Emirates last week, while Norwich have been so parsimonious this season when it comes to goalscoring that they were approaching Christmas in the role of Scrooge. Talk about from famine to feast.

The Canaries had scored only 13 times in 15 Premier League matches before this – fewer than Reading and Southampton – and they still have a negative goal difference. It was a remarkable transformation, then, that saw them extend their unbeaten run to nine games in the Premier League, a club record, in this handsome, freewheeling fashion.

The Swans were 3-0 down at half-time and, despite a thrilling second-half fightback, that mountainous deficit left them with too much to do.

As the scoreline suggests, it was a terrific match of wildly fluctuating fortunes and with goalmouth incident in abundance. Apart from the seven goals that were scored, another was disallowed and the woodwork was rattled on three occasions. Some of Swansea's defensive work was of Heath-Robinson construction, but the spectacle was all the better for that.

Michael Laudrup said he knew a careless performance was coming from his players after the praise heaped upon them after three wins and a draw in four games. "I knew there would be a reaction, and I tried to warn them about it beforehand", he said. "You can't afford to play at 90 per cent at this level, it has to be 100 per cent every time. "

Norwich made an impressive start, dominating possession, and were in no way flattered when they took the lead after 15 minutes. A neat one-two took the right-back, Steven Whittaker, into the penalty area, past Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams, before he shot low, left-footed, inside Gerhard Tremmel's left-hand post. .

Swansea were second best throughout the first half. Norwich doubled their lead when Sebastien Bassong, four yards out at the far post, headed in a long, left-wing cross from Grant Holt. Before half-time Holt himself scored with an emphatic header from a Robert Snodgrass free-kick.

Swansea gave themselves renewed hope after 50 minutes, when Michu, at the near post, expertly volleyed in Davies's cross from the left. After 58 minutes there was only one goal in it again when De Guzman, 12 yards out, drove the ball low into Bunn's left-hand corner.

Snodgrass scored Norwich's fourth with a left-footed free-kick from the inside-right-channel which beat Tremmel to his left. Michu struck again in added time, but it was too late and Norwich departed worthy winners.

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