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Premier League

  • August 13, 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • The DW Stadium, Wigan
  • Referee: S. Attwell
  • • Attendance: 17454

Wigan Athletic 1-1 Norwich City: Goalkeeping blunder from Al-Habsi gives Canaries impressive away point on opening day

Wigan Athletic 1-1 Norwich City: Goalkeeping blunder from Al-Habsi gives Canaries impressive away point on opening day

The Oman international spilled Steve Morison's effort into the feet of the impressive Wes Hoolahan after Ben Watson had given the hosts the lead from the penalty spot

Norwich City picked up an opening day point away to Wigan Athletic after drawing 1-1 in their first game back in the Premier League since 2005.

The hosts took the lead on the 21st minute through an unstoppable Ben Watson penalty after Franco Di Santo had been brought down by Ritchie De Laet. But, in an error-strewn first 45 minutes, Norwich fittingly made the most of an Ali Al-Habsi mistake to smash the ball home on the stoke of half time.

The game kicked off in understandably frenetic fashion, with Franco Di Santo hacked down by a nasty looking challenge from David Fox to earn a booking after less than 30 seconds. It was to prove a fitting start to an opening minutes brimming with energy, with neither side showing signs of a summer hangover.

That said, chances were proving few and far between for both teams, though it was Norwich who were playing the nicer football, dictating the flow of the game from the centre of the park. However, the speed of Victor Moses was proving a problem for Lambert's men, with the former Crystal Palace man nearly scoring a phenomenal opener, just scuffing an effort having embarrassed Andrew Crofts and Russell Martin.

It was the visitors who were to have the first clear-cut chance however, as Morrison, having received the ball from Watson deep in the Wigan half, played in Wes Hoolahan only for the former Blackpool man to completely slice his effort on the edge of the area.

He was made to pay only minutes later as De Laet acted tentatively on the left wing only to be robbed by Di Santo and he hauled down the advancing Latics man as he entered the area. There was little doubt  that it was a penalty and Watson duly smashed it home to provide the home side with the breakthrough.

Spot on | Ben Watson gives Wigan the lead following  De Laet's foul on Di Santo
Norwich offered little in response and De Laet was caught dwelling on the ball once again on the left-hand side as Wigan moved up a gear and regained possession in midfield. Chances for Di Santo and Moses were to come to nothing but the hosts' dominance was becoming prevalent as half-time approached.

As the cause was looking lost for the visitors, they were to be offered reprieve on the stroke of half-time as Wigan's Player of the Season in 2010-11 spilled Steve Morison's effort into the feet of Hoolahan, who tucked the ball away to make Paul Lambert's half-time team talk far easier.

If De Laet had been the villain for the Canaries in the first-half, he was to prove their saviour early on in the second with a magnificent tackle to deny Moses.

The young Wigan forward was having a magnificent opening day of the season and was nearly rewarded with a goal following a spellbinding run from the right, in which he weaved in and out of the Canaries defence only to be stopped by John Ruddy. With half an hour remaining, neither side looked happy to simply take the point and run.

Lambert's side were proving ever more threatening and as he brought on two wingers in Elliot Bennett and Anthony Pilkington with a quarter of an hour remaining, the Scot's intentions were clear. The game looked there for the taking as the hosts went on the retreat. 

It was Wigan who nearly grabbed the points however through the phenomenal Moses, as the youngster blasted an effort into De Laet. However, as the away side looked over the precipice, they hung on to secure a valuable point to leave De Laet relieved and the Canaries fans singing.