Monday 9 December 2019

Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan on target but Norwich throw away two-goal lead

Robbie Brady celebrates scoring the first goal for Norwich City
Action Images via Reuters / Ed Sykes
Robbie Brady celebrates scoring the first goal for Norwich City Action Images via Reuters / Ed Sykes

Andy Sims

Dimitri Payet celebrated signing his new West Ham contract by rescuing a 2-2 draw at Norwich.

The Hammers looked down and out after falling two goals behind thanks to strikes by Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan, with City on the verge of a precious win in their battle to beat the drop.

But Payet, handed an improved deal this week to ward off big-money interest from China, pulled one back before setting up the equaliser for Mark Noble.

It was a bitter blow for Norwich, who remain in the bottom three despite ending their run of five straight defeats.

City looked determined to right the wrongs of the previous few games straight from kick-off and almost took the lead in the opening minute, Russell Martin driving just over the crossbar from 20 yards.

Brady then curled a free-kick inches too high, Steven Naismith scuffed a good chance wide and Hoolahan's effort from a quickly-taken corner was only just off target.

West Ham, perhaps not so fresh from their 120-minute FA Cup marathon against Liverpool in midweek, carved out only the occasional chance in the first half although John Ruddy, recalled in the Norwich goal in preference to Declan Rudd, did well to tip over a fierce, angled drive from Enner Valencia.

But in the 54th minute Norwich took a deserved lead when Brady robbed Michail Antonio midway inside the Hammers half, charged forward unchallenged and thumped an unstoppable shot past Adrian and into the top corner.

It was the summer signing from Hull's second goal for the Canaries - his first also came against West Ham in the 2-2 draw at Upton Park in September.

Ten minutes later Norwich doubled their lead when Hoolahan fed Naismith on the 18-yard line and continued his run into the area.

As the Scot's shot cannoned between the legs of James Collins it fell perfectly at the feet of Hoolahan to sweep the ball past Adrian.

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

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

Suddenly the Hammers found their second wind and within three minutes they were level, with Payet this time turning provider.

The Frenchman collected the ball on the by-line and picked out Noble on the edge of the area, the midfielder blasting a first-time shot past Ruddy.

Both sides had chances to win it, with Moses driving over for the visitors and Nathan Redmond inches from a stoppage-time winner for City.

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