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23:09 2nd May 2011


CITY completed their fantastic journey back from the wildnerness of League One to the Premier League promised land with a hard-earned 1-0 triumph over Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Simeon Jackson's 50th-minute diving header was enough to earn the spoils and send 3,000 travelling members of the Yellow Army into ecstacy.

Cardiff City's surprising 3-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough earlier in the evening left Paul Lambert's Canaries knowing that one win from their final two games would be enough.

And a typically committed performance from the whole squad, capped by Jackson's excellent strike, earned them their 10th away victory of the season and promotion back to the top flight for the first time since 2005.

After the game Lambert commented: "It's a miracle. The two years that me, Ian and Gary have been here and even Jeff Wood they have been incredible. When we joined we could never have visualised that this would happen. What has been achieved by the players, by that group of lads has been monumental.

"I don't think you can get a word to describe what has been achieved. It's absolutely incredible what has happened here. Just to stay in the Championship would have been a great achievement but to actually go up beggars belief."

Before the game Lambert chose an unchanged starting line-up following the 3-2 win over Derby County seven days ago, with the on-fire Simeon Jackson - fresh from a hat-trick in that match - partnering top scorer and skipper Grant Holt up front.

As the game got underway Whitbread had a great chance to edge the Canaries in front in only the 2nd minute, as Fox's free-kick deflected off the wall invitingly for the big defender but he could only plant his header narrowly wide of the far post from close range.

In the 7th minute Pompey skipper Hermann Hreidarsson was fortunate to escape with no card from referee Andy D'Urso after a crunching foul on Holt looked as if it might have been followed by a bit of afters from the home player.

Two minutes later there was a yellow card for Portsmouth defender Mokoena after he scythed down Jackson with the Norwich striker in full flight.

From the resulting free-kick from Fox Croft's headed goalwards with a decent glancing effort but it looped up and narrowly over the bar.

Play entered an even spell for the next period before Hreidarsson was finally booked for pulling back Crofts after the Norwich midfielder had expertly robbed him on the right touchline in the 31st minute.

Four minutes later the Canaries went close again as the tempo lifted, another Fox free-kick providing the chance and Ward's back-header flashing inches wide of the far post.

In the 39th minute Holt thought he had bundled the ball home as he took down Fox's clever chip into the box and the ball squirmed goalwards under Ashdown only to be hacked clear off the line by the Portsmouth defence.

Half-time: Portsmouth 0, City 0

Almost straight away City carved out a great chance to start the half in dramatic fashion. Holt's excellent flick-on sending Jackson sprinting into the box, but the Canadian fired wide under pressure.

But the 3,000-strong Yellow Army didn't have long to wait as the Canaries swept into the lead right in front of them. It came when Fox hit a superb curling ball into the path of Jackson, who dived to head home is ninth goal in seven games.

In the 55th minute they nearly doubled their advantage when Russell Martin hit a scorching effort which former Canary loan 'keeper Ashdown parried behind smartly.

At the other end there was a hearts-in-mouths moment when Kanu got a slight touch to an effort from Nugent and the ball was scrambled away at full stretch by the City defence.

Norwich began to play some lovely football and after a sustained spell of possession they were close to grabbing a second when Surman chested down Ward's ball to the edge of the box then fired in a volley which was deflected a couple of feet wide.

As the half progressed City continued to play good football, conscious that a single-goal margin constituted enough to do the job required on the night.

With 12 minutes of normal time remaining the Yellow Army gave David Fox a deserved standing ovation as he was replaced by Henri Lansbury. And in the nail-biting minutes to follow more time was eaten up by Simon Lappin replacing Andrew Surman in the 87th minute.

    Data provided by Press Association


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