Hoolahan hails one of his best
Norwich City star forward Wes Hoolahan hailed his matchwinning goal against Leicester City as one of the best of his career.
Hoolahan rifled a shot past goalkeeper Carl Ikeme from fully 25 yards in a breathless 4-3 victory at Carrow Road that moved Paul Lambert’s men up to third in the Championship table.
The Irishman’s first goal from the penalty spot nudged City in front early in the second half after Andrew Crofts had cancelled out Martyn Waghorn’s second-minute opener.
Adam Drury’s first goal for City since January 2005 made it 3-1 before substitute Matt Fryatt reduced the arrears. Then Hoolahan’s screamer was the trigger for late drama.
Fryatt bundled home his second minutes later but was then shown a straight red card for lashing out at Leon Barnett in his attempts to retrieve the ball for the restart.
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Hoolahan said: “We made it a bit hard work for ourselves when we went 3-1 and then they scored so quickly. Even at 4-2 I felt we were comfortable for a few minutes and then we conceded a sloppy one which made the last 15 minutes hard.
“After Saturday it was important we responded because I can’t remember back-to-back losses in the last two or three seasons at home.
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“We’ve been quite good and it was important to get back on board.
“It’s nice to see the table and see we are third but we all know it’s early days. What it does mean is that we can now look to carry this on and go to Bristol City with confidence and hopefully get a good result there as well.”
Hoolahan admitted his second goal was pure instinct as he lashed a long-range half-volley past Ikeme to double his tally for the season, following a cool 53rd-minute penalty after Andy King was adjudged to have handled Russell Martin’s driven cross.
He said: “I took a lot of pleasure from those. With the second one you just don’t know when you hit it, whether it’s going into the net or the back of the stand, but it’s definitely up there with one of the best in my career.
“It was end-to-end stuff, that is for sure, and we made life very hard for ourselves going down a goal so early.
“We got one back without playing particularly well first half but we started quite brightly after half-time and got on the front foot and managed to score a few.
“I’m sure it’s entertaining for the neutrals watching but I would settle for a 1-0. It was a bit heart-stopping.”
Hoolahan conceded Norwich had to do it the hard way after Waghorn’s angled shot was pushed into his own net by goalkeeper John Ruddy inside the opening two minutes.
He said: “Mistakes happen, that is all part of the game, but you have to bounce back and be strong and we were. It was so early I think it was important we got one back before the break. The boys managed to do that and I thought from then onwards we commanded it.”
Manager Lambert applauded both Hoolahan’s goals: “His second - brilliant, it was absolutely a terrific finish. His first one was a big moment.
“I thought it was an unbelievable pressure penalty and to score takes a lot of guts, to go and hit a penalty in a big moment in the game, and I think that was a big moment in the game. And I thought his second goal was absolutely colossal for us.
“Wes has been in the Championship before, the only difference is we have maybe put him in a different position from where he played before and he’s thriving on it and relishing the way he’s playing.”
The defeat keeps the pressure on Leicester manager Paulo Sousa, who put on a brave face after Norwich made it 10 goals conceded by the Championship’s bottom side in two away matches, and in the space of five days.
“There is a lot of quality in the team and there was also a lot of spirit out there,” said Sousa. “To turn things around we need that...at times we left ourselves a little bit exposed and got punished. It was very difficult for us because everything seemed to go against us.
“This is not an easy moment, I know that, but I have spoken to the new owners and I think the best way to turn this around is to stick together.”