Barclays Premier League: Norwich City 2, Everton 2
17:02 07 April 2012
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Skipper Grant Holt’s 15th goal of the season earned Norwich City another Premier League point as they twice came from behind against FA Cup semi-finalists Everton.
Holt struck after 76 minutes thanks to excellent work by substitute Aaron Wilbraham to take the Canaries to the 40-point mark.
Everton had led twice through Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic, City’s first equaliser coming through midfielder Jonny Howson’s first goal for the club.
Jelavic gave Everton the lead midway through the first half when he deftly turned in a cross by Phil Jagielka.
Howson levelled six minutes before the break when he tucked away a cross by Wes Hoolahan.
Jelavic restored Everton’s lead after 61 minutes from Steven Pienaar’s centre but there was controversy in the build-up to the goal when referee Andre Marriner appeared to impede Hoolahan.
City drew level again when Wilbraham set up Holt after the substitute’s shot had been parried by goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Referee Marriner’s performance at times infuriated the home crowd and after booking Everton full-back Leighton Baines early on, the England international was somehow allowed to stay on despite subsequent bad challenges on David Fox and Russell Martin.
City boss Paul Lambert made three changes from the starting eleven involved in the 2-1 defeat at Fulham. Holt returned after a one-match ban and there were recalls for Adam Drury and Elliott Bennett.
Steve Morison and Kyle Naughton reverted to the bench and there was no sign of defender Zak Whitbread in the squad of 18. Winger Anthony Pilkington was missing for the third game in a row with a hamstring injury.
Everton also showed three changes after their 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion with skipper Phil Neville, defender Sylvain Distin and midfielder Magaye Gueye recalled. John Heitinga and Marouane Fellaini stepped down to the bench, while Leon Osman was missing from the 18.
Howson was playing in a more advanced role, supporting lone striker Holt in front of a four-man midfield, in which Hoolahan rather than Surman was operating in the wide left role.
Gibson had the first shot at goal after two minutes after Jelavic’s header from a Hibbert cross was headed away by Russell Martin, but the midfielder’s miscued effort flew wide.
There was another scare two minutes later when Gueye crossed from the left but just too high for the unmarked Jelavic to make clean contact at the far post.
A foul on Russell Martin gave City a free-kick wide on the right in the 10th minute, but Surman’s kick was well held by goalkeeper Howard at full stretch.
Holt’s determination earned a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area when he was brought down by Jagielka. Elliott Bennett thumped the free-kick straight into the wall, though Pienaar appeared to have advanced well before the kick was taken.
Everton had enjoyed better possession, however, and went ahead after 22 minutes when Jelavic scored his fourth goal for the club.
From a free-kick on the left conceded by Ryan Bennett, the ball was worked to Baines, who in turn found Jagielka, and the defender’s cross was touched home deftly by Jelavic with the outside of his right foot.
There was almost a second goal moments later when a cross eluded Ruddy and bounced back off the post to Cahill, but his shot was saved on the line by Ruddy – although the flag appeared to be up for offside.
As City pushed forward, Baines was shown the yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Elliott Bennett.
With half an hour gone, the Canaries had not seriously troubled Howard, although the ’keeper did well to gather an awkward cross from Drury under the bar.
Their best effort yet came on 35 minutes when Surman fired a left-foot shot just wide from 20 yards after a pass from Fox.
Six minutes before the break, City were on terms when Howson scored his first goal for the club.
Good work by Drury enabled Hoolahan to cross from the left and Howson arrived in the six-yard box to sidefoot home.
Baines was lucky to avoid a second yellow card for a high challenge on Fox on halfway and, as City began to unsettle their visitors a little, Jelavic had to resort to a foul on Holt.
In first half stoppage time, appeals for a penalty were waved aside when Jagielka appeared to block Surman’s shot at close range with his hands.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Everton 1
Everton made a change at the restart when Coleman replaced Gueye.
City won another free-kick just outside the Everton area when Jagielka fouled Elliott Bennett. After some delay, Surman’s kick was fired straight at Pienaar in the wall.
Holt headed straight at Howard from Hoolahan’s cross after Howson sent the Irishman clear on the left.
Drury came to City’s rescue seven minutes after the interval when Jelavic weaved his way into the box and crossed to the far post, but the full-back just got ahead of Coleman to clear before the substitute could finish.
At the other end, Howard failed to hold a stinging effort from Howson with Holt just unable to follow up and as City continued to press, a free-kick from Fox – following offence for which Pienaar was booked - was nodded back by Holt for Howson to test Howard again with a volley, but this time the flag was up.
Everton made a second change when Fellaini was sent on in place of Neville.
And the visitors went ahead in controversial fashion after 61 minutes when Jelavic struck his second of the match.
Baines fed Pienaar, whose low cross was tucked away left-footed by Jelavic, but in the build-up to the goal it appeared that referee Marriner had blocked off Hoolahan from making a challenge while Pienaar had the ball trapped on the floor.
Fellaini was booked for a foul on Hoolahan before City made their first change when striker Wilbraham replaced Fox.
Referee Marriner angered the home crowd again when he overruled his linesman by giving a free-kick for Holt’s challenge on Jagielka when the assistant had signalled a Norwich throw-in.
A foul by Cahill on Ryan Bennett gave City yet another free-kick on the edge of the area and this time Holt’s effort was deflected off the wall for a corner.
City replaced Drury with Naughton before Surman took the corner, which was headed clear by Cahill, but as City pressed again Elliott Bennett fired into the side netting when he might have done better.
But the Canaries drew level with just under a quarter of an hour to go as Holt struck his 15th goal of the season, which owed much to excellent work by Wilbraham.
The substitute raced through to strike a firm shot that Howard parried but the battling Wilbraham did superbly to retrieve the loose ball, hold off Jagielka and set up Holt for a fairly simple sidefoot home.
Naughton had a low drive saved by Howard and Elliott Bennett blazed over from another promising move as City, roared on by the home crowd, looked for a winner.
Everton made their final change when Anichebe was sent on for Cahill with nine minutes to go.
It was anyone’s game now and Ruddy saved Fellaini’s header from a cross by fellow substitute Coleman.
Ward produced a vital challenge on Anichebe to deny the substitute a shooting chance, and then Ryan Bennett denied Jelavic when the flag stayed down.
Jelavic was then guilty of dreadful play acting when he went down clutching his face after the merest touch by Ryan Bennett – and nowhere near his face.
Baines committed at least his fourth foul when he blocked off Russell Martin but once again escaped a second yellow card.
• Result: Norwich City 2, Everton 2
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett, Ward, Drury (Naughton, 75); Elliott Bennett, Fox (Wilbraham, 65), Surman, Hoolahan (Crofts, 90); Howson; Holt. Subs (not used): Steer, Johnson, Jackson, Morison.
• Everton: Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Gueye (Coleman, 45), Gibson, Neville (Fellaini, 56), Pienaar; Cahill (Anichebe, 81); Jelavic. Subs (not used): Mucha, Heitinga, Stracqualursi, McFadden.
• Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
• Attendance: 26,554
• Goals: City: Howson (39), Holt (76). Everton: Jelavic (22, 61)
• Bookings: Everton: Baines (24), Pienaar (55), Fellaini (64)