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Tottenham 1-2 Norwich City: Pilkington & Bennett goals further dent Spurs' top-four hopes
The Canaries leave White Hart Lane with a famous victory, handing Chelsea, Arsenal and perhaps Newcastle the initiative in the scramble for the final two Champions League spots
By Husmukh Kerai
An early goal from Anthony Pilkington gave the Canaries the initiative before Jermain Defoe levelled the scores with a fine finish moments after the visitors were denied a penalty.
Norwich played with no inhibition in what was a thrilling contest and took all three points thanks to a magnificent strike from Elliott Bennett, denying Tottenham the three points that they needed to go ahead of Arsenal into third.
Harry Redknapp made five changes to the side which drew with Sunderland, with Jake Livermore coming in for the injured Scott Parker. Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Louis Saha and Defoe were also back in the side.
Paul Lambert brought in Bradley Johnson, Pilkington and Aaron Wilbraham for Wes Hoolahan, David Fox and Andrew Surman in three changes from the weekend.
Spurs started the game on the front foot and could have scored as early as the fourth minute when Defoe found space in the box and laid the ball off to Saha but the Frenchman’s low shot was well saved by John Ruddy.
|THE MOMENT THE GAME WAS WON
|FROM OUR LIVE COMMENTARY
GOAL!!!! What a superb strike from Elliott Bennett for Norwich!!!! It's an absolute screamer from outside the box as Spurs don't close him down! Friedel doesn't have a chance, and it's 2-1 Norwich! What a goal.
Norwich were almost handed the lead in the 11th minute when Kyle Walker’s careless pass back to Brad Friedel was pounced on by Grant Holt but the Tottenham defender made amends by nicking the ball back.
The visitors took the lead through Pilkington with Younes Kaboul at fault this time, losing possession on the edge of the box. Walker and King failed to clear the danger between them presenting the chance to a grateful Pilkington who calmly slotted home.
Tottenham looked vulnerable in defence as the match went on with Grant Holt creating real problems for King and Kaboul with his physical presence.
Norwich could have doubled their lead after half an hour through Johnson but his thunderous strike hit the base of the wall from a well-worked set-piece.
Holt continued to cause the Spurs defence problems and should have had a penalty after 32 minutes. The striker turned King and was then dragged to the ground by the defender but the referee waved away the visitors’ protests, leaving Paul Lambert incensed on the touchline.
It went from bad to worse for Lambert as Spurs were level a minute later. Livermore threaded a lovely ball into Defoe after winning possession in midfield. The forward waited for Ruddy to come rushing out before lifting the ball over him to bring the scores level at the break.
Tottenham started the second half with a sense of purpose, having sacrificed the out-of-sorts Saha for Emmanuel Adebayor, and almost immediately took the lead through Gareth Bale. The Welshman was on the end of Lennon’s cut-back from the right-hand side but his shot from 15 yards out was blocked.
Spurs came close again in the 53rd minute and were only denied by a brilliant save from Ruddy. Benoit Assou-Ekotto exchanged passes with Adebayor and then fired a low shot, to which was Ruddy was equal.
That was followed by another great chance for Johnson who fired his half-volley over the bar from only a few yards out after making a good run to get on the end of Holt’s cross.
Both teams threw men forward searching for the breakthrough - Bale in particular looked more like his usual self in the second half and he hit the woodwork with a left-footed shot, having been played in by Luka Modric's fine pass.
Just when the Spurs crowd were finding their voice they were silenced by a magnificent goal from Bennett after 66 minutes. The winger advanced with the ball down the right and, with the Tottenham defence backing off, hammered a glorious shot past the statuesque Friedel.
That strike took the sting out of the match and created a sense of tension in the crowd which was filtering into the Spurs players. The breakneck tempo was finally slowing down, with the visitors adopting a more cautious approach.
However, the Canaries wasted a great chance to make it 3-1 when Jonny Howson had a chance to shoot inside the area but elected to pass, allowing the Tottenham defence to intervene.
Norwich were denying Spurs any possesion in the final third and were themselves knocking the ball about with confidence and style as the match drew to a close, seeing out a famous victory.
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