Tottenham 2, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 September 2013 | UPDATED: 17:43 14 September 2013
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Norwich City were second best against a slick Tottenham outfit in a 2-0 Premier League defeat at White Hart Lane.
Spurs’ Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson struck in either half but it was Danish debutant Christian Eriksen who ran the show for the hosts with Norwich’s midfield unable to counteract his vision and awareness in a classy 70-minute shift.
Sigurdsson slotted past John Ruddy from 16 yards in the 28th minute from Eriksen’s slip pass before a simple tap-in from point blank range five minutes after the interval to complete a routine win for Andre Villas-Boas’ side. Ricky van Wolfswinkel spurned the Canaries’ best chance in the second period when he struck Danny Rose from five yards, but City could have few complaints after a lacklustre showing.
Chris Hughton opted to retain the starting line up that edged out Southampton prior to the international break. Gary Hooper was included on the substitutes’ bench against his boyhood club after overcoming the shin injury suffered in the pre-season finale with Panathinaikos. Swedish international Martin Olsson was also elevated into Hughton’s matchday plans following a pivotal role in a double World Cup qualifying win for his country over the past fortnight. Eriksen came in for the injured Etienne Capoue with Sigurdsson replacing Nacer Chadli in the only other change from the recent north London derby defeat to Arsenal. Sigurdsson produced the first shot of note inside the opening two minutes after veering in off the left flank, but Ruddy was able to watch the rising strike with few alarms. Michael Turner then headed clear inside his own six yard box after Andros Townsend probed for vulnerability on Norwich’s opposite flank. Townsend was allowed to spin and club a left footer that brushed Ruddy’s side netting shortly afterwards in a much more potent sign of intent from Villas-Boas’ side.
City were indebted to Spurs’ old boy Sebastien Bassong in the 12th minute when he managed to use the right-hand post and his body to block Roberto Soldado’s attempted back heel on the line after Ruddy had parried Eriksen’s initial strike following Danny Rose’s incisive burst down the left.
Villas-Boas expressed his obvious disgust at Townsend’s rather ambitious hit that drifted high and wide but the Portuguese boss woudl have revelled in the hosts’ movement and attacking intent that stretched the Canaries in the frenetic early stages. Bradley Johnson took matters into his own hands in a bid to disrupt Tottenham’s smooth rhythm with a sliding challenge on Soldado that earned the game’s first yellow-card.
City remained pinned inside their own territory as first Steven Whittaker and then Bassong bravely deflected away threatening strikes from Eriksen and Soldado.
Tottenham’s overwhelming control of possession finally tipped the balance in the 28th minute when the overlapping Sigurdsson killed Eriksen’s perfect pass to calmly guide past Ruddy into the keeper’s bottom left-hand corner.
Bassong’s defensive instincts were required again in the aftermath with Rose a constant marauding presence down the Tottenham left, but City finally lifted the siege in the 35th minute when Nathan Redmond escaped from Kyle Walker only for his cutback met by van Wolfswinkel to clearly clip the sliding Jan Vertonghen. Referee Mason opted instead to award a goal kick despite furious protests led by Johan Elmander.
Norwich’s left flank remained a profitable source for Spurs, with Townsend and Kyle Walker firmly in the ascendancy. Soldado almost connected with Townsend’s whipped cross before Rose skied over from a tight angle at the far post. Hughton resisted any temptation to alter his starting line up at the interval and it was Eriksen who predictably featured in the opening instalment on the restart after Elmander’s intended chest pass was intercepted to free the Dane who hammered well over from distance. City’s inability to subdue the debutant returned to haunt them in the 50th minute when he was given time and space to pick out Paulinho whose cut back was slotted from point blank range at the far post by Sigurdsson.
Ruddy denied the Icelander a hat-trick just past the hour mark when he clawed out a strike destined for the top corner before Bassong again cut out a driven ball from Rose before imploring his team mates for a greater collective effort. Turner seemingly heeded the vocal encouragement when he denied Townsend soon after but City’s backline were operating under severe stress.
Jonny Howson was introduced for Johnson who along with Fer had endured a torrid afternoon trying to handle the livewire Eriksen. Ruddy was pressed into service again to kick away from Townsend with the hosts enjoying their total domination. City’s prospects of getting back into the contest appear to recede further in the 70th minute when van Wolfswinkel was denied five yards out by the diving Rose after Redmond had helped Snodgrass’ free kick back into the Tottenham penalty area.
Anthony Pilkington and Alex Tettey replaced Elmander and Redmond but it was Spurs who continued to press although Townsend’s latest entry from range lacked the pace to trouble Ruddy. Hugo Lloris spilled under pressure from Turner only for Vertonghen scrambled behind and then the French keeper escaped with a yellow card after racing from his area to apparently punch clear to sum up Norwich’s miserable trip to London - compounded when Snodgrass slammed the free kick into the Tottenham wall.
• Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Dembele (Lamela 83), Paulinho, Townsend, Eriksen (Holtby 71), Sigurdsson (Sandro 79), Soldado. Subs (not used): Friedel, Kaboul, Naughton, Defoe.
• Booking: Lloris (foul 85).
• Goals: Sigurdsson (28, 50).
• Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Fer, Johnson (Howson 64), Snodgrass, Elmander (Tettey 74), Redmond (Pilkington 74), van Wolfswinkel. Subs (not used): Bunn, Martin, Hooper, Olsson.
• Bookings: Johnson (foul on Soldado, 20); Garrido (foul on Townsend, 60); Elmander (foul on Rose, 70).
• Added on time: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
• Attendance: 35,952