Norwich City 3-1 West Ham United: Canaries comeback bags crucial win – video

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Norwich City completed a remarkable second half turnaround as they beat West Ham United 3-1 at Carrow Road.

Trailing at the break after Ravel Morrison’s opener for West Ham, the Canaries surged back in the second half to seal their first win since September as Gary Hooper slammed home a penalty to equalize, Robert Snodgrass’ curled in a free kick and Leroy Fer bagged his first Norwich goal with a cool finish late on.

The victory was much-needed for Norwich boss Chris Hughton who’s been under intense pressure after the Canaries poor run of form saw them slip into the relegation zone, while West Ham’s struggles continue as they once again played without a recognized striker due to their injury woes.

With the win Norwich climb above West Ham into 14th with 12 points from 11 games, the Hammers sit one place and one point behind the Canaries.

Early on the home crowd were lively but their team failed to get a grasp on the game and looked shaky at the back as West Ham dominated possession.

In the 11th minute of the match the Hammers sprang into life as first Morrison slotted in Kevin Nolan whose shot was well-saved by John Ruddy. Moments later a cross was whipped over to the back post and Stewart Downing’s shot was well blocked and the ball was cleared for a corner.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup: Big wins for Liverpool, Saints, Norwich, Villa, Chelsea fight back – video)

From the resulting set-piece Guy Demel lost his marker as smashed a header against the crossbar. So close for the Hammers.

Moans and groans started to ring out from the home crowd as West Ham pressed high up the pitch and Norwich gave the ball away cheaply on several occasions.

In the 17th minute Norwich surged forward down the right as Gary Hooper’s inviting cross was knocked away by the Hammers as they set up shop to defend.

Just past the midway point of the first half Razvan Rat’s cross from the left-wing found Nolan unmarked and the Hammers captain direct his shot goal wards but Ruddy saved easily down low.

Moments later Nolan turned provider as West Ham went ahead through Morrison’s third Premier League goal of the season. A break down the left saw Rat’s cross find Nolan, and after his initial effort was saved he got to the byline and slotted the ball perfectly into Morrison’s path who put the Hammers 1-0 up.

source: Getty Images
Ravel Morrison’s first half goal was as good as it got for West Ham as Norwich surged back to win.

For the rest of the first half West Ham looked more likely to add to their tally, but Norwich hung on to go in just 1-0 down at the break.

The Canaries looked more composed after the break and in the 53rd minute a looping ball forward was dropped by West Ham ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and as he struggled to get back possession of the ball amongst a crowded box he tripped Norwich striker Gary Hooper and referee Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot.

Hooper stepped up and smashed the penalty kick straight down the middle to score his first Premier League goal and get the Canaries back on level terms.

But moments later James Collins fired a snapshot just wide of the right hand post as the Hammers almost went straight back ahead.

In the 70th minute Jonny Howson went incredibly close to taking the lead as his viciously dipping long-range effort smashed off the crossbar and there was a foul as the ball looped back into play and the Canaries were awarded a free kick 25-yards out.

And it was from the set-piece that Norwich went ahead as Scottish international Snodgrass curled in a delightful effort over the West Ham wall and into the top corner to send Carrow Road into delirium. The Scottish winger was returning to action after being knocked out and concussed in the recent League Cup defeat at Manchester United, and he showed exactly what he could do with the fantastic finish from distance.

Late on the game opened up as the Hammers tried to force an equalizer with Carlton Cole thrown on to create havoc, but it was Norwich who looked most likely too add to their lead as Hooper and Nathan Redmond proved dangerous on the break.

And the Canaries did extend their lead with almost the last kick of the game, as Fer won a great challenge against James Tomkins, surged forward and then smashed the ball home to send Carrow Road into raptures.

LINEUP

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Turner, R Bennett, Olsson; Snodgrass, Howson, Fer, Pilkington (Redmond, 33); Elmander, Hooper (Johnson, 87).

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Tomkins, Rat, Noble (Jarvis, 87), Nolan, Collison (C. Cole, 74), Downing, J.Cole (Diame, 72), Morrison

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.