Tuesday 28 January 2020

Canaries thwarted by VAR and Kane

Norwich City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane scores from the penalty spot to earn his side a draw at Carrow Road. Photo: Getty
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane scores from the penalty spot to earn his side a draw at Carrow Road. Photo: Getty

Paul MacInnes

This match was all over the place. There were moments of quality, some howlers and the sort of VAR controversy that everyone would happily consign to the bin. In the end a draw was frustrating for both teams, but just about the right result.

Norwich took a first-half lead through Mario Vrancic and thought they had a second only for Teemu Pukki to be adjudged offside by a distance undetectable to the naked eye. Spurs equalised quickly after half-time through Christian Eriksen, went behind again through a comical own goal and earned a draw late on with Harry Kane's penalty.

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The first half was stuffed with action. Both teams had made four changes from St Stephen's Day, but José Mourinho pulled an extra surprise by switching to three at the back with Juan Foyth joining Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. It is fair to say the new partnership didn't hit the ground running.

Norwich created the first chance in the 10th minute with Marco Stieper mann capitalising on uncertainty in the Spurs backline to chop his way into the box and toe-poke a shot that Paulo Gazzaniga did well to stretch and turn round his right-hand post. Two minutes later a mistake from Christoph Zimmermann let in Kane who bore down on goal and teed up Dele Alli only for him to side-foot the ball well over the bar.

Kane was put in again shortly afterwards thanks to a tried-and-trusted Alderweireld pinged pass, but Tim Krul came out to smother the shot. Then, with 18 minutes on the clock, the hosts opened the scoring. Mario Vrancic has had to bide his time to get a place in this Norwich side despite their struggles. But the Bosnian's calmness was crucial to promotion last year and he took his first goal of the season superbly, driving on to overturned possession and giving a flick of his right boot before coming back across the ball. Caught out for just a moment, Gazzaniga could not get close.

It was Foyth who lost the ball in the build-up, marching confidently upfield, only to have it robbed from him. The glare from Mourinho was something to behold but his team were not about to stop their shenanigans. In the 28th minute Vrancic sent Onel Hernández clear and he cut back on Foyth to create a shooting opportunity only for his technique to let him down as the ball drifted wide of the far post.

Norwich City's Teemu Pukki (right) and Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld battle for possession before the ball rebounds off Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier (not in frame) resulting in an own goal. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Norwich City's Teemu Pukki (right) and Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld battle for possession before the ball rebounds off Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier (not in frame) resulting in an own goal. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Another error, or maybe two, was still to come and it was the biggest of the half. Vrancic was involved again, picking up possession from Serge Aurier on halfway and hitting an Alderweireld-esque pass to release Pukki. The Finn found himself up against the Belgian, but Alderweireld was too weak to stand his ground, Pukki got away and fired a shot low past Gazzaniga.

VAR got involved, however, and found Pukki to be offside by the now-traditional armpit. It was fair to say Carrow Road was less than pleased. The atmosphere for the remainder of the half was toxic.

Half-time brought an end to Mourinho's tactical experiment. Both Foyth and Vertonghen were removed with Lucas Moura and Davinson Sánchez introduced in their stead and Spurs reverting to their more familiar back four. Within 10 minutes they were level.

The goal was an Eriksen special, a free-kick 20 yards out, given up by Norwich's Jamal Lewis with a handball after Kane outsmarted him in an aerial duel. Giovanni Lo Celso lined up alongside Eriksen for the kick, but there was no doubt it would be the Dane who would take it. He duly got it over the wall and into Krul's net. The madness was not over, however, and six minutes later Norwich were back ahead in comical circumstances. After good possession for the hosts Emi Buendía released Pukki into the Spurs box. Just as the forward was teeing up a shot, Alderweireld arrived on the scene and poked the ball off Pukki's toe. What the Spurs man did not envisage, however, was Aurier also turning up. The clearance bounced off the Frenchman and into the Tottenham net.

Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier in action with Norwich City's Onel Hernandez. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur's Serge Aurier in action with Norwich City's Onel Hernandez. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

A period of relative calm followed with Spurs having a lot of the ball but no clear chances. Then with nine minutes remaining Spurs broke with just Alli and Kane right the way down the pitch and when Kane dropped his shoulder in the Norwich box, Zimmermann obliged with a sliding tackle to catch the Spurs skipper. VAR announced a penalty check and confirmed it a millisecond later. Kane made no mistake with the kick.

Observer

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli in action with Norwich City's Christoph Zimmermann. Photo: Chris Radburn/Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli in action with Norwich City's Christoph Zimmermann. Photo: Chris Radburn/Reuters

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