Norwich vs Newcastle match report: Martin Olsson's injury time winner deals huge blow to Toon survival bid

Norwich City 3 Newcastle United 2

Steve Tongue
Carrow Road
Saturday 02 April 2016 17:08
Comments
Martin Olsson is mobbed by his team-mates after his goal
Martin Olsson is mobbed by his team-mates after his goal

A “must-not-lose” game in the Premier League basement provided far more excitement than could reasonably have been expected from two struggling teams, who went through all the emotions in the final few minutes alone.

With five minutes to play Norfolk was thanking God for the wonderfully named Dieumerci Mbokani, who appeared to have thrashed in the winning goal and Newcastle United were saying their prayers. Then Rafa Benitez's bold substitutions paid a dividend with a second goal from Aleksandar Mitrovic, only for left-back Martin Olsson to break Newcastle hearts – those not already in pieces after another depressing season.

What it all means is that Norwich sit six points above their visitors and four clear of Sunderland, albeit having played a game more than both. They have the momentum, carried over from two good results before the international break, although the race is far from run.

The lesson for Newcastle, who had scored a pathetic total of seven goals in 15 previous away games, is that they need to unleash Mitrovic and go for it. Once they did in the second half, having already added Ayoze Perez as much needed support to lone and lonely striker Papiss Cisse, Norwich looked like conceding every time the ball was in the air.

Georginio Wijnaldum reacts after the final whistle (Getty)

“It's really painful,” Benitez said with some feeling. “The only thing we can take as a positive is the reaction of the team. The second halves have been good and we have to give this level for 90 minutes.”

After losing goalkeeper Rob Elliot for the rest of the season Benitez had been forced to bring in Karl Darlow, who had only played one previous Premier League game, at West Bromwich, and been blamed for the winning goal in it. Here there could be no faulting him. Indeed in a first half dominated by the home side he made excellent saves from Robbie Brady and Mbokani, who also had one effort crossed out for straying carelessly offside.

Norwich still led at the break, Swiss defender Timm Klose, the January signing from Wolfsburg, heading his first goal right on half-time, from Robbie Brady's free-kick.

The second period was a different story once Newcastle gave Cisse some help. The striker was spared a little of his embarrassment at a bad miss by being (wrongly) given offside before Mitrovic, entitled to think his equalising goal against Sunderland would earn him a start here, headed in a cross by Andros Townsend.

Only three minutes later Mbokani, starting almost from the touchline, came inside and found the top corner of the net. Mitrovic headed just wide from the excellent Jonjo Shelvey, then grabbed the ball as Gary O'Neil unnecessarily handled, planting his penalty confidently past John Ruddy's despairing dive.

The goalkeeper brilliantly saved Cisse's header and with a capacity crowd to resigned to stalemate, Newcastle failed to clear a cross hoisted in by O'Neil, and substitute Wes Hoolahan set up Olsson.

Norwich's Alex Neil, torn between sounding too jubilant and playing it all down, said: "It was a crucial win but all it's done is give us three points with six games to play. I've always believed (we can stay up)."

Norwich (4-4-1-1): Ruddy; Wisdom, Bennett, Klose, Olsson; Jarvis (Redmoind, 75), O'Neil, Howson, Brady; Naismith (Hoolahan, 80); Mbokani (Jerome, 85).

Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Darlow; Janmaat, Mbemba, Taylor, Anita (Mitrovic, 61)f; Shelvey, Tiote (Perez, 46); Townsend, Wijnaldum, Sissoko; Cisse.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Man of the match: Klose.

Match rating: 8/10

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in