Sebastien Bassong’s first strike earns last-minute point for Norwich City at Everton
Norwich City scored in the last minute of normal time at Goodison Park to earn a 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday. The goal was scored by Bassong and was his first for the club.
This result extended City’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to six games and means they remain in 13th place in the table.
Turner was ruled out by the injury he sustained against Manchester United last week and his place was taken by Ryan Bennett. Ruddy, who had also picked up an injury against United, was fit to start against his old club.
Everton made the running in the first half and took the lead after 12 minutes when Oviedo beat Whittaker to Hitzlsperger’s pass and found Naismith, who scored the first goal conceded by the Canaries in 346 minutes of Premier League football. As the Toffees continued to press, Baines and Osman tested Ruddy, and the home fans appealed for a penalty when Tettey challenged Naismith. At the other end Holt shot wide after 30 minutes following a surging run which took him past two defenders, and Bassong headed wide from Snodgrass’ corner.
So Everton had the better of the first 45 minutes and deserved their 1-0 lead. In the second half the rain began to fall, and as it did so Norwich began to grow in confidence and strove for the equaliser. Whittaker put Holt through for a one on one with Everton’s keeper. Pilkington twice forced Howard into saves, and Heitinga cleared Snodgrass’ shot off the line. Johnson was booked after 68 minutes and Baines almost doubled Everton’s lead, but Ruddy made a timely save.
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With 15 minutes remaining Norwich opted for less guile and more striking power by replacing Hoolahan with Morison. Ruddy had to leave the pitch with eight minutes to go as he began to feel the effects of last week’s injury. City redoubled their efforts: Howard made a good save from Pilkington’s header after good work by Whittaker. Garrido and Tettey were both booked.
In a final throw of the dice Hughton made his last gamble: Jackson replaced Snodgrass. City were now playing with three out and out strikers and their boldness was rewarded with only seconds remaining. Baines was penalised for bringing down Morison, and Garrido floated in his free kick perfectly to the waiting Bassong, standing on the goal line at the back post. The centre back’s header went in off the bar. Holt poked it in when it hit the ground, but the goal was credited to Bassong since it had already crossed the line. The Canaries then played out the five minutes of extra time to preserve their point.
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After the final whistle had blown Everton’s manager queried whether the final free kick should have been awarded, and bemoaned his side’s inability to turn their early pressure into more goals. Certainly the Canaries, and particularly Bassong and his fellow defenders, were under the cosh in the first 30 minutes, but they deserve great credit for never giving up. Manager Hughton should also be praised for continuing to attack until the very end and for his astute substitutions.
Christmas may be coming, but the Canaries cannot yet relax. The team and their fans face a busy and testing schedule: after the long trip to Liverpool on Saturday they face an equally long journey to play Southampton on Wednesday, and a game at home to Sunderland on Sunday. Let us hope our injured players soon recover from their knocks, and that our recent vein of good form and impressive results continues.
Anyone who attended last week’s AGM will not need reminding how important it is for Norwich City to remain in the Premier League for the next few years. At present we are on course to do so. Memo to the directors, the management, the supporters and the players: Keep up the good work!