Norwich City hung on to beat a battling Crystal Palace side 1-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday, as Chris Hughton’s men edged clear of the bottom three thanks to Gary Hooper’s first half strike.
In a game between two sides more content to battle it out than dominate possession, Norwich went close early on as Johan Elmander hit the bar with a splendid flicked effort. However in the 30th minute the game-winner arrived as great set up play from Nathan Redmond, Elmander and Wes Hoolahan found Hooper in the six-yard box to coolly slot home.
Palace battled and Barry Bannan’s effort cannoned off the bar in the first half, while Cameron Jerome went close and a last-ditch clearance from Sebastien Bassong stopped the Eagles from grabbing a point in Tony Pulis’ first game in charge.
With the win Norwich climb to 14th and now have 14 points from 13 games, while Palace drop to the foot of the table and are now six points clear of safety.
Within the first minute Norwich captain Bassong headed wide as the games first chance fell to the home side. Soon after Palace had their first chance of the game as Jason Puncheon stung the palms of John Ruddy with a low effort on goal.
Norwich put Palace under the cosh and in the 10th minute Elmander saw his wonderful flicked effort from Hoolahan’s free kick hit the bar and bounce on the line only for the goal-line technology to say ‘no goal’ as the Canaries came so close. Soon after Nathan Redmond forced Julian Speroni into a fine save as the home side were in the ascendancy.
Norwich continued to push forward but Palace held firm in two solid banks of four and were dangerous on the break. However it was the home side who took the lead after 29 minutes when Hooper finished off a wonderful move from the Canaries. Redmond cut in from the right and his ball found Elmander who flicked it towards Hoolahan who then teed up Hooper to slot home.
But Palace almost equalized immediately as Bannan’s fierce effort from 12-yards out cannoned off the bar and away.
After the interval Norwich almost doubled their lead ad Redmond’s mazy run saw him in on goal but he blazed over the bar. But Palace almost equalized as Dean Moxey surged forward down the left flank and drilled a low ball across goal that Bassong somehow cleared over his own bar and out for a corner. Pulis’ face was a picture as he couldn’t believe the ball hadn’t gone in.
The longer the game went on, Palace kept surging forward and Cameron Jerome up front was causing all kinds of problems for Norwich’s defense with his direct style and pace. Palace were huffing and puffing throughout the second half but failed to really create clear cut chances and get in behind Norwich.
A flurry of late substitutes from Pulis saw the visitors throw the kitchen sink at Norwich but the Canaries were rapid on the counter-attack and saw out the game to net a vital 1-0 win.
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, R Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Fer, Howson, Redmond, Hoolahan (Johnson, 79), Elmander (Becchio, 81), Hooper (Whittaker, 91)
Goal: Hooper (30)
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (Williams, 73), Puncheon (Kebe, 76), Chamakh (Gayle, 80), Jerome