Everton 1, Norwich City 1
15:01 25 November 2012
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Defender Sebastien Bassong scored a dramatic last-minute equaliser to earn Norwich City a Premier League point from rainswept Goodison Park.
Bassong’s first goal for the Canaries extended their unbeaten run to six league games and seven matches in all competitions.
The centre-half headed home from a Javier Garrido free-kick in the last of the 90 minutes of normal time. Skipper Grant Holt followed the ball in to make sure, but it was already over the line after bouncing down off the crossbar.
Everton led at the interval thanks to an early goal by Steven Naismith. Naismith fired them ahead in the 12th minute after Bryan Oviedo left City defender Steven Whittaker flat footed and crossed for Whittaker’s former Rangers team-mate to shoot past John Ruddy.
Ruddy, playing against his old club, limited the damage before half-time with saves from Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, while the Canaries failed to spark into life until the second period.
It was then that Anthony Pilkington tested Everton keeper Tim Howard with a free-kick and Robert Snodgrass had a goalbound effort cleared by John Heitinga.
Ruddy produced more heroics, including a fine save from Osman, before hobbling off eight minutes from time with a thigh injury, but the real drama came at the other end when first Pilkington’s header was kept out by Howard six minutes from time – before Bassong’s late rescue act.
City boss Chris Hughton was forced into the first change in four Premier League games with centre-half Michael Turner ruled out by a shoulder injury and replaced by Ryan Bennett.
Goalkeeper Ruddy recovered from a knee problem that prevented him training for most of the week. Leon Barnett was brought into the 18 as one of seven substitutes.
Defender Russell Martin travelled with the City squad and was out on the pitch to get some exercise before kick-off, but was not included on the teamsheet so missed his fourth league game in a row.
Everton showed two changes after the 2-1 defeat at Reading with Sylvain Distin and Bryan Oviedo replacing Seamus Coleman and suspended top scorer Marouane Fellaini.
Osman, scorer in the corresponding fixture last season, was quickly into the action and curled a left-foot shot just wide after little more than a minute.
A poor pass from Snodgrass almost put Bassong in trouble 10 yards into the City half but it was Pienaar who needed attention after a block tackle by the big defender.
A foul by Hitzlsperger on Snodgrass gave City a free-kick inside the Everton half, but Snodgrass delivered a poor ball and Osman headed clear.
A cross from Jagielka was aimed at Jelavic but Ryan Bennett did enough to stop the striker making clean contact as his header dropped out for a goal-kick.
Everton took the lead, however, in the 12th minute, after a mistake by Whittaker. The full-back allowed Oviedo to drift past him by the left corner flag and his low cross was perfect for Naismith to fire into the roof of the net.
It was the first goal City had conceded in 346 minutes of Premier League action.
City rallied with a Pilkington corner that was headed clear and a Hoolahan shot that was very wide, but it could have been 2-0 to Everton on 16 minutes when Baines was given too much space to test Ruddy with a shot that the keeper parried, Osman’s bobbling follow-up effort landing on the roof of the net.
There were appeals for a penalty when Tettey challenged Naismith but referee Jones was unimpressed.
Holt’s determination brought him a decent opening after 25 minutes when he rode two challenges but then blazed a left-foot shot wide from just outside the Everton area.
Osman tested Ruddy with a snapshot from just outside the Norwich area as Everton looked for a second goal. Ruddy then saved bravely at the feet of Naismith after a neat flick by Jelavic.
Bassong headed wide from a Snodgrass corner five minutes before the break as City tried to get on terms but Howard had not really been troubled.
Osman shot straight at Ruddy when he might have done better after a neat one-two with Pienaar left him with a clear view of the ’keeper.
• Half-time: Everton 1, Norwich City 0
City won a free-kick four minutes into the second half but when Pilkington’s kick was headed clear, Tettey’s follow-up effort cleared the bar by some distance.
Holt took a knock from a challenge by Distin and needed attention before play could continue.
Rain swept across Goodison as a high boot by Heitinga on Hoolahan gave City a free-kick five yards outside the Everton area and Pilkington produced their best effort yet with a curling dead-ball kick that Howard managed to beat away.
There was a real opening on 59 minutes when Whittaker’s through-ball left Holt in a one-on-one against Howard, but the bounce favoured the keeper as he dashed out to knock the ball clear from the advancing striker.
Ruddy claimed a header from Distin as Everton hit back, though it appeared to be going wide.
Jelavic volleyed over following a corner, but as City broke, there was a real opening that was spoiled when they over-elaborated and Snodgrass’ attempt to pull the ball back across goal was snuffed out.
Johnson earned the day’s first yellow card for a foul on Oviedo, but City were looking more threatening now and when Hoolahan and Holt combined to find Snodgrass, his goalbound effort was cleared just short of the line by Heitinga.
Ruddy saved a low drive from Oviedo as he dived to his left, with play more end-to-end than in the opening half.
A determined run by Baines looked set to give Everton a second as he went past two challenges, but Ruddy produced a fine save from his powerful effort before City scrambled the ball away.
With 15 minutes to go, Hughton opted for a second striker as he replaced Hoolahan with Morison.
But Everton squandered another opening when Osman screwed a centre across the face of the goal.
With eight minutes to go, Ruddy hobbled off after a brave performance, to be replaced by substitute keeper Bunn.
Two minutes later, Pilkington was denied an equaliser when his header from Whittaker’s cross was kept out by a fine Howard save.
Garrido was booked for bringing down Oviedo with three minutes to go, and then Tettey was booked for advancing too quickly to block Baines’ free-kick. From the retake, Baines curled a shot narrowly over the top.
Jackson replaced Snodgrass with just over a minute to go as Hughton used his final substitute.
And there was real drama with just seconds left of the 90 minutes when Bassong equalised with his first goal for the Canaries.
Garrido floated in a free-kick from the right touchline and Bassong was the man to get his head to it, his header bouncing up and coming down off the bar and over the line before Holt made sure – but the ball was already in.
Everton replaced Naismith with Vellios as the game entered stoppage time.
• Everton: Howard; Jaigielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Osman, Hitzlsperger; Pienaar, Naismith (Vellios, 90), Oviedo; Jelavic. Subs (not used): Mucha, Hibbert, Duffy, Barkley, Gueye, Kennedy.
• Norwich City: Ruddy (Bunn, 82); Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Bassong, Garrido; Tettey, Johnson; Snodgrass (Jackson, 89), Hoolahan (Morison, 75), Pilkington; Holt. Subs (not used): Tierney, Barnett, Howson, Elliott Bennett.
• Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
• Attendance: 34,502
• Goals: Everton: Naismith (12). City: Bassong (90)
• Bookings: Everton: Heitinga (83). City: Johnson (68), Garrido (87), Tettey (88)