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Premier League

  • February 11, 2012
  • • 10:00 AM
  • • 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

The Canaries earned the three points in a superb game from the Liberty Stadium, as Grant Holt's brace secured the away side a deserved victory.

Norwich City defeated Swansea City 3-2 in a superb game thanks to a brace from Grant Holt despite two goals from Danny Graham for the Welsh side.

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

By contrast, the second half saw a complete turnaround in fortunes, as Norwich scored three times in the opening 17 minutes through Anthony Pilkington and Grant Holt twice, as the shell-shocked Swansea defense could not cope with the visitors' waves of attacking play. Graham’s late penalty was a late twist, but the home side could not find an equalizer.

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

Meanwhile, Norwich was forced to field two different center backs from its 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 preseason.

The game kicked off in sunny but cold conditions, and both sides struggled to retain possession. As the first half began to develop, however, Norwich began to control possession, while Swansea struggled to break down the Canaries’ defensive formation. However, both sides had difficulties creating 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 chances, 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 was delighted, if fortunate, to take the lead.

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

The game began to open up towards the end of the first half, and Swansea could have doubled its advantage in the 39th minute, again through Graham. A ball from the dangerous 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.

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

All of a sudden, the game opened up, and after Caulker hit the post almost immediately 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 from Neil Taylor into the net. In just the 51st minute, Norwich had completely turned the game around, and now led 2-1.

However, the home side could have found an equalizer of its 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, a complete turnaround from the first half.

The Canaries were clearly galvanized, and after a swift counterattack, the ball found its way to Holt, who finished well to give the away side a deserved 3-1 lead, with its three goals scored in the space of 17 second half minutes. The home side was clearly shell-shocked, and was 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 which had the next best chance, through right back Kyle Naughton, who hit a ferocious shot in the 74th minute that was tipped onto the post by Swansea’s Vorm. Second half substitute Wes Hoolahan then had a superb chance to make it 4-1 for the away side after a pass from Holt, but his shot was parried over the bar by Vorm.

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 away side just held on to earn a victory.