REPORT: CITY 2-2 EVERTONNORWICH City and Everton shared the spoils after an entertaining 2-2 draw at Carrow Road as the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season got underway.
All four of the game’s goals came in the second half, with City taking the lead through Steven Whittaker before Everton turned the game around thanks to strikes from Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman.
However, Ricky van Wolfswinkel nodded home on his competitive debut for the Club to earn City a deserved point after a thrilling second 45.
The result means that the Canaries still haven’t lost to the Merseysiders since returning to the Premier League in 2011, but new Everton manager Roberto Martinez would have surely taken a point his first game in charge.
Robert Snodgrass was the most notable absentee for the Canaries, with Elliott Bennett deputising for him while Nathan Redmond and van Wolfswinkel made their competitive debuts for the Canaries.
Martinez opted for an attacking line-up in his first game in charge of the Toffees, with young midfielder Barkley starting with new signings Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone on the bench.
John Ruddy’s first work of the season came on five minutes, and it was a simple save for the England international as he collected Phil Jagielka’s header from Leighton Baines’ free-kick.
City won their first set-piece on nine minutes, but the towering figure of Marouane Fellaini was in the way of the Canaries testing Tim Howard in goal.
Van Wolfswinkel then had a header diverted wide as the atmosphere built, before the Dutchman met a fine ball from Russell Martin before squaring a cross that Sylvain Distin launched over his own bar.
Fellaini and Mirallas both had half-chances for the visitors as they looked more fluid in possession, but clear chances were at a premium for either side.
Martin blocked off Mirallas to earn the Toffees a free-kick late in the half, but the wall did its job and Barkley blazed the rebound over the crossbar.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 Everton
Everton continued with their fast interplay after the break and Mirallas smashed a shot into the sidenetting after Seamus Coleman had broken down the right side.
But it was Norwich’s right-back who made the headlines on 50 minutes – Whittaker strode forward from defence, and after skipping inside Fellaini, he curled a shot that rebounded back off the inside of the post.
Thankfully, it fell straight back to the Scotland international, and he finished from an acute angle to net the Canaries’ their first goal of the Premier League season and to earn them the lead.
Everton pulled level on the hour, though – Ross Barkley, impressive in the hole for Everton all afternoon, was allowed space on the edge of the box and fired a left-footed shot into the corner – his first goal for Everton.
The vocal band of travelling supporters was suddenly in good voice, and they had even more to cheer about five minutes later when they took the lead.
Nikica Jelavic broke into the box on the left side, and after his low shot was parried by John Ruddy, Coleman was quickest to the rebound and made no mistake with the goal at his mercy.
In a complete turnaround from the first half, this one was full of opportunity and Norwich were suddenly level six minutes on through van Wolfswinkel.
Whittaker once again charged down the right, and when his attempted shot sliced into the box, City’s record signing rose superbly to head home on his debut and swing the momentum of the match once more.
The game was in the balance with ten minutes left on the clock, but both sides shored up with substitutions as they looked to hold onto the point.
The effervescent Coleman powered a shot just wide in the final moments, but that was the last action.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2-2 Everton
GOALS: Norwich City – Steven Whittaker (50), van Wolfswinkel (72). Everton – Ross Barkley (61), Seamus Coleman (65)
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Martin (c), Garrido; E Bennett, Howson, Johnson, Redmond (Olsson 86); Hoolahan (Tettey 73); van Wolfswinkel. Subs not used: Bunn (GK), R Bennett, Fox, Butterfield, Becchio.
EVERTON: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka (c), Distin, Baines; Barkley (Anichebe 90), Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar; Mirallas (Naismith 70), Jelavic (Kone 80). Subs not used: Joel (GK), Heitinga, Stones, Deulofeu.