Goalless draws are not exactly rare at Carrow Road – this was the fourth this season – but this one was achieved only after the Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc had pulled off a superb save from a contentious Grant Holt penalty in stoppage time to deny Norwich a win that they scarcely deserved.
The penalty should not have been given, at least not in the opinion of the Southampton players, who mobbed the referee Mark Clattenburg after he had taken the word of his assistant that Luke Shaw had been guilty of a push on Holt.
Saints' manager Mauricio Pochettino faces a possible fine and ban after going on the pitch to confront Clattenburg at the final whistle, unable to contain his anger even after Boruc had saved his side their point. With the help of his interpreter, the Argentinian quickly apologised for his actions.
"I know I should not have done that and I apologise but sometimes you can't control your emotions in these moments," he said. "I have respect for the officials but I felt it was a complete unfairness to us because it was never a penalty." He declined to give details of what he had said, or of Clattenburg's reply.
Southampton, who are in danger again after taking one point from three matches, might also risk a charge of failing to control their players after Clattenburg was jostled in the immediate mêlée, with substitutes Guly do Prado and Jason Puncheon in the forefront of complaints – Puncheon was booked.
Norwich's manager Chris Hughton took the view that his side might have had a moment of good fortune. "On the basis that it is the first penalty we have had given to us for a year we deserved it," he said. "I felt there was contact. It is up to the referee to decide if there was enough contact to give a penalty and his assistant clearly felt there was."
Aggrieved though Pochettino might have felt, the result was probably fair after an error-strewn match played on a pitch made treacherous by continuous snowfall. Mark Bunn, the Norwich goalkeeper, made fine saves from Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez in a first half in which Southampton were the better side.
In the second half, although Lallana blazed over a gaping goal, it was only through two instances of magnificent defending by Maya Yoshida, blocking an attempt by Holt on his goalline and intervening at the last moment after Robert Snodgrass had taken the ball around Boruc, that Norwich were denied a goal.Reuse content