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.
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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.
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.
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