Osman's luck is so tough on Canaries

Everton 1 Norwich City 1: Resilient stand from Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy and his defence undone by Everton deflection

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The Independent Football

Leon Osman's late equaliser denied Norwich the victory they thought their defence had earned after clinging to the advantage of a freak goal by captain Grant Holt, until an increasingly desperate Everton brought on Royston Drenthe.

He immediately perked up their attack, especially when he cut in from the right with 10 minutes to play and unleashed a low left-footerthat took a big deflection off Osman on its way into the net.

That was rough justice for the City goalkeeper and former Everton reserve, John Ruddy, who had made a series of outstanding saves, and for the two central defenders, Zak Whitbread and Russell Martin, who had been equally outstanding.

With only two wins and seven goals at home this season it is plain where Everton's problems have lain. In their starting line-up and seven substitutes yesterday, nobody had managed more than two goals. Norwich, on the other hand, fielded two strikers with half a dozen apiece, in Steve Morison and Holt. The latter has often been used as a highly effective late substitute, so starting with him on the field could easily be read as a declaration of intent.

Despite all that, Everton looked less averse to the idea of scoring in the early stages. Twice in the first seven minutes, the ball found Marouane Fellaini in the Norwich area; the first time, Ruddy saved at his feet, the second the Belgian could not control it.

Then Osman unleashed a curling shot which might just have sneaked inside the far post, had Martin not taken the precaution of heading it to safety. That triggered a series of corners, eventually leading to Magaye Gueye, making a promising first start, putting in a really dangerous ball, which City managed to scramble away.

All in all, Everton were so dominant that it was almost inevitable that they would concede as soon as they came under any pressure. That happened in the 28th minute, with the ball in their area for almost the first time, from David Fox's free-kick.

There still seemed little danger, with Holt holding up the ball with his back to goal and at an acute angle, but the striker somehow managed to swivel around and prod the ball into the net off the foot of the far post. It was not so much against the run of play as irrelevant to it. "He's been great for the two-and-a-half years I've been here," said Paul Lambert of his captain's contribution. "He's been a handful throughout his career and it was a brilliant finish."

It did inspire a little purple patch from Louis Saha, inspired to try to improve on his record of one Premier League goal this season.

He had a sinuous, threatening run at the defence and another foray that ended with a shot perfectly struck, but just the wrong side of the post. It was the same old Everton story – plenty of handsome approach play, but no final product. Saha was flattering to deceive again at the start of the second half, setting up Osman for a shot, again saved by Ruddy, although Holt could have had a second with a header from Kyle Naughton's cross.

After the equaliser, Drenthe had two more good efforts saved, along with attempts from Tony Hibbert and another late replacement, Conor McAleny.

"We deserved three points, but at least we got one," said the Everton manager, David Moyes.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Osman, Fellaini, Neville, Gueye (Drenthe, 71); Cahill (Stracqualursi, 60); Saha (McAleny, 88).

Norwich City (4-4-2): Ruddy; Naughton, Whitbread, Martin, Tierney; Crofts, Fox, Hoolahan (Johnson, 73), Surman; Morison (Wilbraham, 79), Holt.

Referee Lee Probert.

Man of the match Martin (Norwich).

Match rating 7/10.

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