Goals do not come easily to Norwich City but there is something about playing Swansea that reminds them how to do it: in four meetings with the Welsh side in the Premier League they have found the net 12 times. Yesterday’s double would have counted for more, though, had they enabled Chris Hughton’s side to match the points they took from a 4-3 victory at the Liberty Stadium back in December.
What made it worse, more-over, is that they held a 2-1 lead with just 15 minutes remaining, and with three points instead of one they would have been seven points clear of the bottom three, room enough to breathe easy. As it is, after only one win in 15 matches, they must continue to sweat a little longer.
Norwich go to Arsenal next weekend but it may well be the three following games that determine the Canaries’ fate: Reading and Aston Villa at home, sandwiching Stoke away. Generally, their record against struggling teams this season is good.
“It is good that two of those games are at home,” Hughton said. “But all the teams around us are capable of beating each other. I think we can do enough in the last six games to secure our Premiership status.”
Norwich might have had a penalty in the first half when Robert Snodgrass was bundled over by Wayne Routledge in the box, although the winger still managed to deliver a cutback for Michael Turner, whose shot was beaten away by the visitors’ goalkeeper, Michel Vorm.
Otherwise, Swansea were the dominant force, going ahead when Michu (pictured) swept home his 17th goal of the season after being set up by the impressive Jonathan de Guzman. Nathan Dyer might have doubled their lead had he not scuffed the ball soon afterwards, yet a minute later Norwich were level.
Elliott Bennett, who had a fine game once a switch of wings meant he did not need to worry about Dwight Tiendalli’s attacking forays, was released by Kei Kamara to hit a splendid cross from the right that eluded Vorm and was headed in by Snodgrass at the far post. It was only a fifth goal in 11 matches for the home side. Norwich ended the first half on top.
At the start of the second, Swansea regained control. All the more galling to their manager, Michael Laudrup, then, that they should concede for the second time again in the match from an Elliott cross, Turner this time the player to profit from inattentive defending, arriving at the far post to sweep home the free kick.
Then came the first of two misses by Michu, the first a weak header dealt with easily by Lee Camp, before Kamara, who had seen a header beat Vorm but just clear the bar, wasted an opportunity created by a penetrating Snodgrass run by waiting for the ball to come to him, allowing Tiendalli to intercept.
An equaliser, therefore, came as a relief to Laudrup. Luke Moore scored it after substitute Angel Rangel headed Tiendalli’s cross into the danger area, sparing the Dane the need to reflect on a fourth consecutive defeat.
“We had a spell in which mistakes could have cost us dearly but we showed character to come back,” Laudrup said. “It is good to have ended the losing run.”
It might have ended with a win had Michu not blazed over the bar in the 90th minute, by which time Norwich might easily have been reduced to 10 men had referee Michael Oliver spotted a nasty challenge by Grant Holt on Chico Flores.
Norwich (4-4-1-1): Bunn (Camp, 15); Martin, Turner, Bassong, Garrido; E Bennett, Howson (Tetley, 81), Johnson, Snodgrass; Hoolahan (Holt, 80); Kamara.
Swansea (4-4-2): Vorm; Tiendalli, Flores, Williams, Davies (Rangel, 64); Ki Sung-Yeung, De Guzman, Michu, Routledge (Pablo, 64); Moore, Dyer (Lamah, 75).
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the match: Elliott Bennett (Norwich)
Match rating: 8/10