Saturday 17 March 2018

Mixed fortunes for Irish goalscorers

Shane Long of Southampton celebrates his goal against Swansea City on Saturday Photo: Getty
Shane Long of Southampton celebrates his goal against Swansea City on Saturday Photo: Getty

Jamie Holland

Three Irish internationals were among the Premier League goalscorers over the weekend but Shane Long was the only one celebrating.

His sixth league goal of the season gave Southampton a 1-0 win at Swansea that took the south coast club into Europa League qualification territory and seven points away from an automatic Champions League place.

Long settled the issue 21 minutes from time when Swansea, who looked vulnerable at the back, allowed the Ireland striker time and space in which to convert a dipping cross from James Ward-Prowse with his head.

While Long and his team-mates think of Europe, Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan are facing up to the prospect of a battle to avoid relegation.

The Canaries looked set to take all three points against West Ham at Carrow Road when goals from Brady and Hoolahan put them two up.

After a scoreless first half, Brady set the ball rolling when he robbed Michail Antonio and strode forward unchallenged before crashing the ball home from 25 yards.

Norwich doubled their lead in the 64th minute. After feeding Steven Naismith on the 18-yard line, Hoolahan continued his run into the area and, as Naismith's shot cannoned between the legs of James Collins, the ball fell perfectly for him to sweep it past Adrian.

However, West Ham hit back when sub Victor Moses burst into the penalty area and held off two challenges before firing towards goal.

John Ruddy got down well to palm out the effort but it dropped straight to Dimitri Payet, who smashed it into the roof of the net.

Three minutes later Payet, who signed a lucrative new contract last week to ward off big-money interest from China, then turned provider to tee up Mark Noble, who smashed home the equaliser.

"This kind of performance gives us hope that it will be a very different end to the season from last year," said delighted Hammers manager Slaven Bilic, referring to the way West Ham plummeted to 12th last season.

"No way will we put the season to bed now - we have no right to do that and it will not happen. We have so much to play for."

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