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April 9, 2012
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: M. Oliver
• Attendance: 36126
Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon for Goal.com's LIVE! text commentary on Norwich's superb 2-1 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. I've been Chris Teale, thank you very much for joining me this afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the long Easter weekend, everybody.
Well, how about that, then? A cracking game at the Lane, and a deserved win for the Canaries. Elliott Bennett's winner was absolutely stunning, and this result hands the initiative back to Arsenal in the race for the Champions League. Great win for Norwich, as they are virtually assured of Premier League football next season.
90' + 5'
FULL TIME, and it’s a famous 2-1 win for Norwich, their first in the Premier League at White Hart Lane since December 1993. A confident finish from Anthony Pilkington gave the Canaries the lead, but it was cancelled out by a Defoe equaliser. However, in the second half Elliott Bennett scored an absolute stunner from outside the penalty area, and the away side held on for a well-earned victory. It was a pulsating game, filled with superb attacking play and an almost complete disregard for defending at times, and the cries of ‘Grant Holt for England’ will only grow after he gave Ledley King a torrid afternoon. Spurs, by contrast, struggled in possession and did not bring their usual slick passing game, and it is the Canaries that take the points and move towards the top half of the Premier League table.
90' + 4'
Was that a shot or a cross from Bale? He cuts in from the right, and hits it left-footed, and for a moment it looked to have beaten Ruddy. However, he's calm, and collects the ball.
90' + 2'
And that could have been 3-1. A back header from a Spurs defender nearly falls to Steve Morison, but Friedel is out and gathers the ball quickly.
90' + 1'
And the award for the coolest man on the planet goes to Elliott Bennett, who with Adebayor in close quarters, has the presence of mind to head a cross into his goalkeeper's arms in his own box.
Bradley Johnson has another shot from outside the box, and it has Friedel looking worried as it goes just wide.
Steve Morison wants a handball after his cross strikes Ryan Nelsen on the arm, but it's not given. Norwich still pour forward, and Spurs still struggling. There will be five minutes of added time.
Adebayor doesn't look happy as he's pulled up for handball just outside Norwich's penalty area. Spurs haven't had their passing boots on today, but credit to Norwich, who have made life incredibly difficult for them.
Bradley Johnson has a volley reminiscent of Luis Garcia's goal against Juventus in 2005, but it goes high and wide. But, Spurs just can't keep hold of the ball right now, and are struggling to get it off Norwich.
Spurs are struggling to get out of their half right now. Norwich are keeping a high line and are pressing hard. Then, the home side get out of their half, and promptly give the ball away. Not long left here, could this be a famous Canaries win?
Steve Morison is brilliant in the air, and his knock down nearly finds substitute Simeon Jackson in the area. So nearly.
Both are back on their feet after a slight delay, and while maybe a little dazed and confused, there's no obvious ill-effects.
Ouch, that's a nasty collision between Wilbraham and Van der Vaart. Looks like a clash of heads, and both are in agony. Credit to referee Michael Oliver, who stops the game immediately so they can receive treatment.
Oh, Jonny Howson. He's given the freedom of Tottenham, with no defenders around him, but he somehow contrives to give the ball straight to Brad Friedel. Then, Bale has another chance at the other end, but his header from quite a distance out goes wide.
Anthony Pilkington gets a standing ovation of his own, after giving Spurs numerous problems from midfield. He's replaced by Andrew Surman.
Rafael van der Vaart
Meanwhile, Spurs make an attacking substitution, with Rafael Van der Vaart brought on for Jake Livermore.
Grant Holt has been a real thorn in Spurs' side, and he's replaced to a standing ovation by Steve Morison.
"We'll score when we want" is the chant from the away fans, jubilant at their side's 2-1 lead. Spurs have little response as of yet.
Assist Russell Martin
Goal Elliott Bennett
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.
Bale hits the bar! Magnificent football as Modric picks out Bale on the right-hand side. He cuts in on his left foot, and sees his shot rattle the crossbar. That could so easily have been a goal.
Yellow Card Elliott Bennett
Yellow Card Bradley Johnson
Stupid yellow card there for Bradley Johnson. Lennon goes on the gallop again, but over-runs the ball, and Johnson still drags the winger down anyway. Very odd.
What a chance, Bradley Johnson. Holt is in acres of space again on the right from a through ball, and he squares it for Johnson. He has to score with his left, but screws it wide. That should be 2-1 Norwich.
Gareth Bale is starting to roam and find space in central areas, and he sees a decent shot deflected over for a corner.
Another interesting free-kick from Pilkington, and Bradley Johnson tries to scissor-kick the ball in, but it's caught comfortably by Friedel in the Spurs goal.
What a save John Ruddy! Great one-two between Adebayor and Assou-Ekotto, and the left-back has a superb shot palmed over by the Canaries 'keeper. Ruddy for England?
Yellow Card Kyle Walker
Anthony Pilkington comes forward again, and is scythed down by Kyle Walker on the edge of the box. The right-back is cautioned, and Pilkington sends his free kick safely over the bar. High, wide, and not particularly handsome.
Early chance for Spurs! Lennon goes on another lung-busting run, and tees up Bale, whose side-foot shot is blocked in the box. That could easily have been 2-1 Spurs. Alas, not this time.
We're back for the second half, and it's Norwich that kick us off, with the score locked at 1-1 after that superb opening period.
Emmanuel Adebayor is going through some half-time warm up exercises, and he might well be coming on for the start of the second half. He'll probably come on for Saha, who has been anonymous for most of this game.
Well, what a half of football that was. Both sides attacking with verve and intent, and while Norwich could have had a penalty, 1-1 is probably a fair reflection of the half. Let's hope it continues in the second period.
45' + 2'
HALF TIME, and it’s 1-1 in what has been a pulsating first half of attacking football at White Hart Lane. Norwich took the lead thanks to a superb finish from Anthony Pilkington, and have constantly troubled a nervous-looking Tottenham defence. However, the home side equalised through Jermain Defoe, and despite having Kaboul taken off injured, it has been a superb half filled with attacking threats on both sides. Grant Holt has looked particularly threatening, and has given Ledley King a great deal of problems so far. It all bodes well for the second half.
45' + 1'
Meanwhile, Younes Kaboul would appear to have jarred his knee, and is receiving treatment. Harry Redknapp is taking no risks, and brings on Ryan Nelsen in his place.
Usually, one wouldn't describe Grant Holt as audacious. However, he tries a bit of audacity after a Pilkington through ball, and tries to lob Friedel and ward off the attentions of King. However, it goes over.
That is another great free kick from Pilkington, and Holt is in acres of space. So much space, in fact, that he's offside.
Elliott Ward sees a superb left-footed volley blocked by Friedel's stomach, and cleared. They feel a bit hard-done by, but this game is enthralling now, with both teams going for broke and forgetting how to defend, seemingly.
Assist Jake Livermore
Goal Jermain Defoe
GOAL!!!! Spurs are level!!!! After Norwich think they should have a penalty for a foul on Holt, a through ball is sent through to Defoe, and he lifts the ball over Ruddy and into the net!!! 1-1, and this game is really heating up now.
So, so close from Spurs, and that man Bale is involved again. After another swift counter, the Welshman sends in a fizzing cross from the left that Defoe can't quite get a toe on as he slides into the box. Great chance.
Anthony Pilkington sends in a really testing free kick from way outside the box, and Friedel has to tip it over. Like Ronaldinho in 2002, did he mean it?
Well, well. Kyle Walker swings in a really good cross, and Ruddy flaps at it with Bale lurking behind him like a back-street flasher.
Gareth Bale is on the gallop on the counter from a Norwich corner, and he tries a shot but it's blocked. The following corner for Spurs is poor, and easily cleared.
Jake Livermore hits a cross-field ball looking for Bale, but it doesn't get anywhere near him and is cleared away. If Norwich were to get a second before the break, Spurs might not be able to get anywhere near them.
Norwich definitely fancy this. Spurs are as nervous as a guy on a first date with an attractive lady, and the Canaries have pretty dominated the first 20 minutes.
Lennon goes on the charge down Tottenham's right, and sends in a cross towards Defoe that is cut out by a Canary defender.
Norwich are working so hard here, and are denying Spurs any time on the ball. The natives are already getting restless, with anxiety in the stands of White Hart Lane.
King looks seriously shaky in Tottenham's defence, as he clears a cross straight to Aaron Wilbraham, and is fortunate to escape without his error being punished.
Goal Anthony Pilkington
GOAL!!!! And it's Norwich who take the lead! Spurs look very uneasy at the back, and Kaboul loses the ball and King hesitates, it's swept home by Anthony Pilkington! 1-0 Norwich, and a really good finish.
Modric sends in another cracking corner, but Ruddy is out quickly to claim it off the head of Saha. Then, up the other end go Norwich, and Grant Holt is already causing problems with his height and strength.
Bale is on the gallop down the left thanks to a good release from Luka Modric. He sends in a teasing cross, but it evades everyone. Early promise for Spurs.
Gareth Bale slips around on the left, under pressure from Russell Martin, but still forces the game's first corner. In it comes from Modric, but the move breaks down despite good back post movement from Younes Kaboul.
Defoe is full of running early here, perhaps trying to prove a point to manager Harry Redknapp. However, he can't quite bring the ball down on the run, and it is cleared.
The ball's really zipping around on this damp playing surface, but Bradley Johnson is up to the task as he nearly chases down a lobbed pass, but is called offside.
Early test for John Ruddy, as after a throw is controlled by Jermain Defoe, he tees up Louis Saha in the middle. Ruddy spills it, but the ball is cleared by Adam Drury. Early nerves perhaps?
Early hope for Gareth Bale in the middle of the park, but he's snuffed out just outside the Canaries' box, and can't get a shot away.
Early promise, as Elliott Bennett looks to make things interesting with his running on the right. He tries to find Grant Holt, but the big striker is offside.
Here we go! Spurs kick us off in this first half at White Hart Lane!
Not long until kick-off at White Hart Lane. Out come the teams from the tunnel into a seething cauldron of noise in north London.
Goal.com's man at White Hart Lane is Jay Jaffa, and here's his early thoughts on today's game: "I'm in north London as Tottenham host Norwich for a must-win game for Harry Redknapp as he looks to close the year in third position. However, Arsenal's late win over Manchester City yesterday has made prospects of attaining that place look increasingly difficult. It is far from a foregone conclusion though and that, of course, relies on Spurs claiming the points today. Facing them is Paul Lambert's plucky Norwich outfit. Undoubtedly Lambert will end the season as a contender for manager of the year but for now his side have seven games left to finish as high as possible in a remarkable return to the Premier League. With Grant Holt firing on all cylinders as he targets an unlikely England call-up, Spurs will need to be fully focused for this tricky encounter today."
The calls for Grant Holt to be included in the England squad are getting louder, and perhaps it's understandable. He's second only to Wayne Rooney in the list of top English goalscorers in the Premier League this season. With Rooney out suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012, would Holt be a good replacement?
So, it's 20 minutes to kick-off, and it's a rather packed day of Premier League action. Now, I'd really like to hear what you've got to say out there, so please do get in touch. Tweet us @GoalUK, or you can even Tweet me @chris_teale. We'd love to hear your predictions, views, opinions, anything at all.
Stats fans would probably foam at the mouth to hear that the Canaries have failed to score in their last five Premier League games against Spurs, and have won just one of their last 13 against the side from North London in all competitions. A bad omen? Given the way this Premier League season has turned out, who knows. Expect the unexpected, possibly.
Meanwhile, Norwich make three changes to their team that drew 2-2 with Everton at Carrow Road, bringing in Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington and super-sub Aaron Wilbraham, who was superb against the Toffees, and set up Grant Holt’s equaliser.
For the home side, Gareth Bale has passed a late fitness test and will start on the left of midfield. There are four changes to their side, though, with Aaron Lennon starting for the first time in a month after a groin problem. Jermain Defoe and Louis Saha are up front, and young Jake Livermore starts in the centre of midfield in place of Scott Parker, who is completely rested.
With each of these sides having played on Saturday, they both make some changes to their respective teams, looking to both recover from draws last time out.
The teams are in, and they are as follows – Spurs: Friedel; Walker, King, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modric, Livermore, Bale; Saha, Defoe. Subs - Cudicini, Adebayor, Van Der Vaart, Kranjcar, Rose, Sandro, Nelsen. Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Ward, R. Bennett, Drury; Johnson, Pilkington, Wilbraham, Howson, E. Bennett; Holt. Subs - Steer, Morison, Crofts, Jackson, Surman, Hoolahan, Barnett.
Spurs will be keen to press home their position in fourth in the Premier League table, as they are three points clear of Chelsea in fifth and just two behind Arsenal in third. Meanwhile, Norwich have reached 40 points, and sit in 12th, but with the top-half of the table just two points away, they’ve still got plenty to play for despite being largely assured of their place next season.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE! text commentary on Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City from White Hart Lane.
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