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

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.