WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Gary Hooper of Norwich shoots and scores during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City at The Hawthorns on December 07, 2013 in West Bromwich, England

West Brom 0-2 Norwich: Crucial victory for Norwich (video)

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That’s five games without a win for West Bromwich Albion, and three straight losses have the Baggies down in 15th, just two points above the relegation zone. Norwich can be thrilled with their performance, however — at least, compared to the midweek 5-1 loss at Liverpool — and, while only in 14th, will be pleased to have given themselves some breathing room.

It was West Brom that got the first real opportunity of the match, with Chris Brunt seeing his shot blocked, but it was the Canaries that took an early lead, knocking in their first attempt. Leroy Fer slipped his pass through two Albion defenders, allowing Hooper to run on and execute a lovely finish, smashing his low shot into the bottom left corner.

The Baggies responded by applying pressure to Norwich, but despite plenty of attempts, the hosts couldn’t manage to test John Ruddy, much less put a ball in the back of his net.

source: Getty Images
Gary Hooper was on target as he returned to the starting lineup.

In an attempt to liven things up, Steve Clarke made a double switch at the break, bringing on Shane Long for Liam Ridgewell and replacing Morgan Amalfitano with Saido Berahino.

Although the double substitution created greater pressure on the Canaries, West Brom still couldn’t get their shots on target, and Ruddy still had very little to do. The hosts paid for their wastefulness in the 89th minute, when Fer doubled Norwich’s lead.

The Baggies defenders stood off Fer as he made his way into the area, making it all too easy for him to get in a low shot.



West Bromwich Albion: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Lugano, Ridgewell (Long 46), Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano (Berahino 46), Sessegnon, Brunt, Anichebe (Vydra 81)

Subs: L Daniels, Dawson, Popov, Morrison

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker (Martin 90), Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, Johnson, Fer, Elmander (Murphy 76), Hooper (Becchio 90)

Subs: Nash, Hoolahan, Garrido, R Bennett

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)