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Premier League

  • 11 February 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 19927

Swansea City 2-3 Norwich City: Grant Holt nets match-winning double as Danny Graham brace not enough for hosts

Canaries earn the three points in a superb game at the Liberty Stadium, as Paul Lambert's side edge the contest to secure a deserved victory.

Norwich City defeated Swansea City 3-2 in a superb game at the Liberty Stadium, largely thanks to a brace from Grant Holt.

The first-half was initially dominated by the away side, who enjoyed most of the possession, but could not create any clear chances. However, it was Swansea who took the lead in the 22nd minute through Danny Graham after a superb pass from Nathan Dyer.

By contrast, the second half saw a complete turn-around in fortunes, as Norwich scored three times in the opening 17 minutes through Anthony Pilkington and Grant Holt twice, and the shell-shocked Swansea defence could not cope with their waves of attacking play. Graham’s late penalty almost provided a twist, but the home side could not find an equaliser.

Swansea made one change to their team from their 2-1 win at West Brom, with Joe Allen suffering a hamstring injury. He was replaced in the centre of the midfield by Josh McEachran, making his first start in the Premier League since moving on loan from Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Norwich were forced to field two different centre-backs from their 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, as both Daniel Ayala and Zak Whitbread picked up injuries. In their places came Russell Martin and Elliott Ward, making his Premier League debut for the Canaries after picking up an injury in pre-season.

The game kicked off in sunny but cold conditions, and in the early stages youngster McEachran was seeing plenty of the ball for Swansea, and looking comfortable on it. Both sides were struggling to retain possession in the early stages, but in the fifth minute, Norwich’s Russell Martin struggled to clear the ball, and was forced to block a shot from Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson just outside the penalty area.

As the first-half began to develop, Norwich were beginning to have greater amounts of possession, while Swansea were struggling to break down the Canaries’ defensive formation.

Both sides struggled to create any clear chances, and neither goalkeeper was forced into a serious save in the opening 15 minutes. The Canaries were really starting to push forward, and despite not creating any clear openings, they looked the most likely to score.

However, against the run of play, Swansea took the lead in the 22nd minute. After Sigurdsson was instrumental in a well-worked passing move, the ball found its way to Nathan Dyer, who played a superb ball through to Graham, who finished well to make it 1-0 to the home side.

It was the first genuine chance created by either side, and after dealing with Norwich’s domination of possession, the home side were delighted, if fortunate, to take the lead.

Graham was looking very dangerous and caused a number of problems for the Norwich defence nearly taking advantage of a poor back-pass from midfielder David Fox. However, the next genuine chance was fashioned by the away side, as after some good work by Pilkington on the left-hand side, the ball was crossed in and met by a diving header by Surman, which was saved well by Swansea’s Michel Vorm.

The game was beginning to open up towards the end of the first-half, and Swansea could have doubled their advantage in the 39th minute, again through Graham.

A ball from the dangerous Nathan Dyer found its way to Scott Sinclair on the left wing. After a largely anonymous first period, Sinclair sent a superb cross in towards Graham, but the striker could not find a finish thanks to a great piece of defending by Elliott Ward.

The first period drew to a close, with Swansea deserving their 1-0 lead thanks to the superb play of Dyer and Sigurdsson and Graham’s clinical finishing.

After a strong start to the second half, the away side found an equaliser in the 47th minute. A penalty area scramble saw Martin’s shot go high in the air, but it was kept in by Ward, who managed to knock the ball back into the area, and found Holt, whose header tied the scores up at 1-1.

All of a sudden, the game opened up, and after Caulker hit the post almost immediately after with a header, the away side found a second goal in the space of two minutes. Elliott Bennett found some space on the right-hand side, and his ball came to Pilkington, whose shot from just outside the penalty area took a deflection off Neil Taylor and found its way into the net. In just four minutes, Norwich had completely turned the game around, and now led 2-1.

However, the home side could have found an equaliser of their own again, as a cross from Dyer was headed over by Sinclair in the 52nd minute, to the frustration of Sigurdsson who was in a better position to hit a volley. Norwich’s confidence was high, though, and it was a complete turn-around from the first half.

The Canaries were clearly galvanised, and after a swift counter-attack, the ball found its way to Holt, who finished well to give the away side a deserved 3-1 lead, with their three goals scored in the space of 17 minutes. The home side were clearly rattled, and were forced into a double substitution, bringing on Leroy Lita and Wayne Routledge for Sinclair and Dyer, who could not quite hit the heights of his first-half display.

However, it was the away side who had the next best chance, through right-back Kyle Naughton, who hit a ferocious shot in the 74th minute that was tipped onto the bar by Vorm. Second-half substitute Wes Hoolahan then had a superb chance to make it 4-1 to the away side after a pass from Holt, but his shot was parried over by the Dutch goalkeeper.

In a late twist, captain Ashley Williams won Swansea a penalty in the 86th minute after a foul by Holt. Graham stepped up calmly, and put the ball away to reduce the deficit to 3-2, however, despite a frenetic closing few minutes, the visitors just held on to earn a victory.