Norwich City 1-0 Saints: Report
Southampton were defeated for the first time this season with a narrow loss at Carrow Road.
A keenly contested affair from start to finish was settled by Nathan Redmond’s 68th minute low strike which ended a run of three games in all competitions without defeat in 2013/14.
Saints, who were also unbeaten in their last seven meetings with Norwich, saw that run come to an end too, as the hosts celebrated a first victory in the league in the new campaign with a 1-0 success.
The visitors had at least one clear penalty decision not awarded to them, and pushed for what has become their customary late goal in recent games, but couldn’t force a way past a resolute Canaries side who went level on points with Saints thanks to the draw.
Mauricio Pochettino made two changes from the team that started against Sunderland, with Danny Fox coming in at left back for Luke Shaw who had been struggling with a knock during the week. New signing Dani Osvaldo made his full debut, taking the place of Jay Rodriguez in attack.
Guly and Jos Hooiveld remained out with illnesses, whilst there was no room for Jack Cork in the 18.
Hosts Norwich got the game underway on a Carrow Road surface bathed in sunshine on a warm and bright afternoon in Norfolk.
City lined up keen to attack the visitors where possible, with Dutch Under-21 Leroy Fer supporting the front line which had pace in abundance.
That speed was shown in the third minute when winger Nathan Redmond pounced on a loose ball on the left to cut inside and take aim for goal, but his low strike whistled past Artur Boruc’s near post.
In the sixth minute, Norwich were awarded a free-kick when Robert Snodgrass went to ground under a challenge from Danny Fox, but the resulting set-piece from the corner of the area, saw Fox atone for the free-kick by stooping to the floor to head the ball away.
At the other end, James Ward-Prowse nearly profited from Rickie Lambert’s flick-on into the box, but some deep defending from the Canaries prevented the youngster from nipping in before John Ruddy could collect the ball.
Bradley Johnson fired a shot wide for the hosts before Saints went back onto the attack, but this time Schneiderlin’s flick to Lambert came to nothing as Ruddy remained untested in the opening 12 minutes of action.
Despite the lack of clear chances created in the game, the high tempo to the contest made it a match that you couldn’t take your eyes off.
And the fact that Boruc kept his eyes on Leroy Fer’s dangerous run into the area in the 17th minute meant that the Pole was well placed to block the attacking midfielder’s shot inside the six yard box from a set-piece delivery. The close-range rebound from Johan Elmander looked easier to score, but the striker put it wide.
Moments later, Saints should have had a penalty when Lallana’s shot from the edge of the area was unfairly blocked as Bradley Johnson used both hands to block the skipper’s strike, leaving the visitors hard done by as referee Howard Webb waved play on.
Victor Wanyama took aim from distance with an effort that went wide, before Dani Osvaldo almost latched onto Lambert’s pass to finish, but the Italian was deemed to be in an offside position by the assistant closest to the action.
On 26 Osvaldo showed a glimpse of his attacking ability as he took aim for a scissor kick from an Adam Lallana cross, but the ball was headed away from the frontman as it came across the area.
Osvaldo was then unfortunate not to be involved with a neat link-up moments later which saw Fox and Lambert exchange passes, but Schneiderlin’s final ball towards the Italian, ran out into touch.
Schneiderlin recovered impeccably at the other end to deny Fer from pulling the trigger on the back of a series of passes across the Saints area which fortunately, came to nothing.
Norwich came closest to opening the scoring in the 35th minute when a sharp break forward saw the lively Redmond combine with Snodgrass to set up Steven Whittaker, whose fierce strike flew across goal and was deflected out for a corner.
Saints went incredibly close to finding the net themselves though five minutes later, when Ward-Prowse’s free-kick was cleared by the Canaries, but only as far as Lallana, who hit a stunning volley from the just inside the area which crashed off the post whilst Ruddy was left rooted to his spot.
Wanyama followed up with another shot from distance that went over as Saints, who had grown into the game as the half wore on, ended the competitive opening 45 minutes on a level pegging with the hosts.
HALF-TIME: NORWICH CITY 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
There were no changes at the break from either side as the two line-ups remained unchanged for the second 45.
Saints began strongly by winning a corner within a minute of the restart down the right side through Calum Chambers, but the resulting set-piece failed to seriously test the hosts’ backline.
On 49 Osvaldo forced a smart save from Ruddy after Ward-Prowse and Chambers linked up to find Lallana, with the skipper’s short pass finding the Italian, whose shot on the turn was pushed to safety by the England ‘keeper.
Lallana then led the next attack with a clever turn in midfield to set Schneiderlin away in the final third. Schneiderlin’s pass to Osvaldo created another shooting opportunity for the forward, but his low strike was held easily by Ruddy.
Norwich began to find their groove which started after Fer headed a Snodgrass free-kick wide. Thereafter, some fine blocking from Boruc and a combination of Schneiderlin and Lovren, denied the Canaries another stab at goal, before Snodgrass hit a tame shot into the side-netting.
Redmond continued to threaten for the hosts, and after he had got the better of Chambers the former Birmingham man delivered a fine cross towards Elmander, but the header from the on loan forward went wide of Boruc’s right post.
An enforced break from the action whilst Osvaldo recovered from a knock to the face preceded the first substitution of the afternoon for the visitors, as Gaston Ramirez replaced Lallana on the hour mark.
Saints stepped up a notch in the final third, but continued to be on the end of some wrong decisions from the match officials, which only compounded matters when on 68 minutes, Norwich took the lead. Nathan REDMOND did the damage as he cut in from the left and shrugged off Ward-Prowse and was too quick for Wanyama, to drill in a sweet low strike past Boruc into the bottom corner for 1-0.
The goal prompted another change from Pochettino who brought on Steven Davis in place of Schneiderlin for the final 20 minutes or so.
The hosts were making life difficult for Saints though, and made their first change in the 76th minute when Johan Elmander was taken off in favour of Jonny Howson. Two minutes later, Saints made their final switch, bringing on Jay Rodriguez in place of Osvaldo.
Saints regained their composure with Lovren a calming influence from the back to supply Lambert in the final third. The striker’s neat chip into the area came so close to setting Rodriguez through on goal, but a last ditch challenge prevented the frontman from making an instant impact.
In the final ten minutes, the pulsating nature of the contest returned as Saints pushed for a leveller.
In doing so however, they almost let their guard down when Redmond forced his way through into the area, and the low shot from the winger was pushed away well by Boruc at his near post.
Saints went back onto the attack to throw everything at City late on, but found a ‘keeper in good form, as Ruddy kept the visitors at bay, though was never seriously tested in the closing stages.
FULL-TIME: NORWICH CITY 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Norwich City team: John Ruddy, Steven Whittaker, Sebastien Bassong (c), Michael Turner, Javier Garrido, Robert Snodgrass, Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson, Nathan Redmond, Johan Elmander (Jonny Howson 76), Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
Unused substitutes: Mark Bunn, Russell Martin, Alexander Tettey, Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan, Luciano Becchio
Goal: Redmond, 68
Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Calum Chambers, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Danny Fox, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin (Steven Davis 72), James Ward-Prowse, Adam Lallana (c) (Gaston Ramirez 60), Dani Osvaldo (Jay Rodriguez 78), Rickie Lambert.
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, Luke Shaw
Referee: Howard Webb