Premier League: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 18:11 18 March 2012 | UPDATED: 12:06 19 March 2012
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An early goal from Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse was enough to condemn Norwich City to another Premier League defeat in the North East.
Cisse struck in the 11th minute for Newcastle when he fired home from a cross by Jonas Gutierrez, and it took two fine saves from goalkeeper John Ruddy from Demba Ba and Cisse to prevent further damage before the break.
But it was Dutch keeper Tim Krul who excelled after the interval with two saves in as many minutes to prevent the Canaries getting on terms, foiling first Anthony Pilkington then brilliantly tipping over a Zak Whitbread header.
It was a much better performance from City at St James’ Park than they produced at Sunderland last month, but the result made it just one point from the last four league games and they will be keen to arrest that slide at home to struggling Wolves next Saturday.
The defeat also extended the Canaries’ poor run in front of the cameras with just one win in nine TV games this season.
City boss Paul Lambert made four changes after the 1-1 draw against Wigan with recalls for Jonny Howson, Elliott Bennett, Anthony Pilkington and Steve Morison,
The four players relegated to the bench were Andrew Crofts, Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson.
Defender Elliott Ward was handed the captain’s armband for the first time.
Newcastle showed two changes to the team beaten 2-1 at Arsenal on Monday night.
Cheick Tiote was ruled out by a thigh injury and Davide Santon was dropped to the substitutes’ bench. Into the side came James Perch and Danny Guthrie.
Before kick-off, players officials and spectators joined in a minute’s applause for Bolton player Fabrice Muamba, critically ill in hospital after collapsing in the FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham on Saturday evening.
Cisse was presented with the first opportunity after little more than a minute when Cabaye’s through-ball left him clear of the City defence, who seemed to be expecting a flag, but as he tried to lob Ruddy, the keeper managed to knock the ball up and grab it.
Coloccini tried his luck from well over 30 yards in the sixth minute but his effort sailed into the crowd.
A foul by Williamson on Howson gave City a free-kick some 30 yards out, but it was wasted as Ward headed Fox’s kick into an empty space.
Newcastle took the lead in the 11th minute when Cisse struck. Gutierrez, attacking from left-back, managed to get the better of Naughton on the left and his cross into the six-yard box found Cisse getting ahead of Whitbread to shoot first time past Ruddy.
United had a lucky escape in the 19th minute, however, when the dithering Williamson was caught in possession by Morison, and Howson, folling up, rifled a powerful effort just past the angle of post and bar.
Pilkington tested Krul for the first time from about 25 yards but the keeper was solidly behind his effort.
Whitbread needed attention after being caught in the face by Cisse’s shoulder as he jumped for a header.
Ruddy made a fine save on the half-hour to keep the score at 1-0. Cabaye took a pass from Gutierrez and fired in a shot from the left corner of the area, Ba managing to flick it on, but Ruddy dived to his left to push the ball round the post.
There were appeals for hand-ball when Guthrie’s shot was blocked by the falling Bennett, but referee Dowd was unimpressed.
Naughton blocked a volley from Cisse as Newcastle threatened down the right through Ben Arfa.
Ruddy saved City again four minutes before the break when Gutierrez played the perfect through-ball for Cisse, who looked set to score his second, only for the keeper to come out and make a fine save.
Surman missed a good chance to equalise a minute before the interval when Bennett’s perseverance enabled him to cross from the right, Pilkington challenged Simpson in the air and the ball dropped for Surman, but he screwed his shot across the face of goal.
A foul on Drury gave City a free-kick in first-half stoppage time but Fox curled his shot over the top.
• Half-time: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
Howson fired very high and wide two minutes after the restart from Fox’s well-judged through-ball.
Then Cisse tested Ruddy with a 20-yard drive but the keeper was right behind it.
Morison just failed to get on the end of crosses by Drury and Naughton as City broke, looking for an equaliser.
Eight minutes into the half, Krul was forced into action again when Fox’s pass enabled Pilkington to get ahead of Simpson and the keeper had to save at his near post.
Then Krul excelled with a marvellous save as Bennett crossed from the right and he tipped Whitbread’s powerful header over the top.
As City began to threaten more, Coloccini had to be alert to cut out Surman’s cross into the six-yard box with Krul out of his goal.
Bennett earned the day’s first yellow card for a foul as Newcastle pushed forward again.
Newcastle made their first change after 63 minutes when Santon replaced Ben Arfa.
A bad slice by Williamson presented City with another corner, Ward getting in a header that was blocked.
United made their second change when Shola Ameobi was sent on for goalscorer Cisse.
Ruddy saved from Cabaye as the hosts broke through Ameobi, and as the keeper failed to hold the ball, Ba was just unable to force home the rebound.
The home side used their last substitute with a quarter of an hour left as Gosling replaced Guthrie.
Lambert made his first change when Holt replaced Howson, and within seconds of the change, Whitbread was booked for a foul on Ba.
Eight minutes from time, Drury made way for Hoolahan, and there was one more change three minutes later when Pilkington hobbled off to be replaced by Russell Martin.
With little more than a minute left, Surman connected with Bennett’s cross but his overhead kick flew over.
Morison missed a good opening in the final minute when he struck a tame effort at Krul after Whitbread had headed the keeper’s kick into his path.
Ameobi flashed a shot wide at the other end as the game entered stoppage time.
Naughton was booked in stoppage time for a foul on Gutierrez.
• Result: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
• Newcastle United (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Gutierrez; Ben Arfa (Santon, 63), Perch, Guthrie (Gosling, 76), Cabaye; Cisse (Shola Ameobi, 69), Ba. Subs (not used): Elliot, Vuckic, Donaldson, Abeid.
• Norwich City (4-1-4-1): Ruddy; Naughton, Ward, Whitbread, Drury (Hoolahan, 82); Fox; Bennett, Howson (Holt, 77), Surman, Pilkington (Russell Martin, 85); Morison. Subs (not used): Steer, Johnson, Crofts, Jackson.
• Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
• Attendance: 47,883 (1,904 Norwich fans)
• Goals: Newcastle: Cisse (11).
• Bookings: City: Bennett (62), Whitbread (78), Naughton (90)