Norwich City v West Ham United - Premier League

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.

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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

VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week – Round 25

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In a week where defenders scored critical goals, it’s no surprise to see a 4-3-3 in the Premier League’s Team of the Week.

Robert Huth‘s brace while blanking Manchester City leads the way for the PL’s top XI from the weekend, while Southampton’s vaunted back line and keeper have two in mix.

[ MORE: Ailing Chelsea, Man Utd showcase obvious deficiencies ]

Liverpool and Arsenal both put offensive forces on the team, while big goals for safety hopefuls Newcastle United and Aston Villa found three players between the two in the XI.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Premier League Team of the Week — Round 25 ARCHIVE ]

Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster (Southampton)

Defenders: Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Robert Huth (Leicester City), Joleon Lescott (Aston Villa)

Midfielders: Aaron Lennon (Everton), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Forwards: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)

Premier League Player of the Week — Round 25

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Score one for the Midlands.

In a season for lowlights, Aston Villa captain Gabriel Agbonlahor is celebrating a bit of hope for his beleaguered club after his classy finish gave the 29-year-old his first goal of the season.

[ REACTION: Agbonlahor says Villa now ready to produce great escape ]

It also inspired Villa to consider that eight points off the Premier League safety chase isn’t unrealistic if it can put together some more gritty performances like the 2-0 defeat of Norwich City on Saturday.

Premier League Players of the Week

Week 1: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

Week 2: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

Week 3: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth

Week 4: Bafetimbi Gomis, Swansea City

Week 5: Steven Naismith, Everton

Week 6: Anthony Martial, Manchester United

Week 7: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

Week 8: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

Week 9: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City

Week 10: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

Week 11: Arouna Kone, Everton

Week 12: Jesse Lingard, Manchester United

Week 15: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

Week 16: Ayoze Perez, Newcastle United

Week 17: Odion Ighalo, Watford

Week 19: Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City

Week 20: Jermain Defoe, Sunderland

Week 21: Jermain Defoe, Sunderland

Week 22: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

Week 23: Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur

Week 24: Fraser Forster, Southampton

Week 25: Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.