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15 December 2013

Stunning Hooper volley earns Canaries point at Carrow Road

GARY Hooper's stunning volley in first half stoppage time earned Norwich City a point as they drew 1-1 with Swansea City at Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon.

The in-form striker picked up a Johan Elmander lay-off 30 yards out and after taking one touch, fired magnificently over the helpless Michel Vorm.

Swansea had earlier taken the lead through Nathan Dyer, but then suffered a blow as the winger was later carried off with a suspected fractured ankle.

The Canaries had the better of the chances in a goalless second half, with Hooper and Michael Turner going closest, with the latter hitting the crossbar with a header.

The point lifts City above Cardiff into 14th place in the Premier League, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Chris Hughton kept faith with the same eleven that earned victory at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, with Steven Whittaker and Michael Turner retaining their places at the back.

Swansea, on the other hand, made eight chances from Thursday’s Europa League group game away to St Gallen, with Vorm and Michu among those returning to the fray.

Steven Whittaker blasted over the bar on two minutes has City made an adventurous start to the match, but the defender was then guilty of some sloppiness in possession that allowed Pablo Hernandez to fire an effort just wide from 20 yards.

The visitors took control of possession and earned a free-kick in a dangerous position on 11 minutes, but luckily Jonathan de Guzman’s set-piece was comfortably seen over his own bar by John Ruddy.

They took the lead on 12 minutes, however, as City failed to deal with a long punt up field by Ashley Williams, and Dyer broke in between Sebastien Bassong and Ruddy to loft the ball over City’s ‘keeper.

City were on the offensive almost immediately and had a handball shout rejected when Angel Rangel cleared a Nathan Redmond cross behind for a corner.

They weren’t retaining possession effectively, though, and Swansea were easily making inroads in the final third, and could have scored again on 23 but for Michu’s wild left-footed shot.

Whittaker’s searching ball on 27 minutes found Hooper pulling away at the back post, but the former Celtic man could only nudge his header well wide.

Hooper then robbed Ashley Williams of possession to bear down on goal for City’s clearest chance of the game up to then, but Michel Vorm was quick to close down the angle, forcing him inside and to slice his effort wide.

Bassong collided with goalscorer Dyer when both were challenging aerially for the ball, and the Swansea winger was forced off with what unfortunately appeared to be a serious ankle injury.

Just before half-time, a City corner led to the ball bouncing around in the box, from which Leroy Fer managed to poke a shot at goal that Williams was grateful to nod over his own crossbar.

Bassong then powered a header over the bar from the resultant set-piece as the Canaries pushed for an equaliser in the six minutes of added on time from Dyer’s injury treatment.

Then Hooper struck just moments after Howson had screwed a shot wide – Whittaker’s long ball was expertly chested into the path of the striker by Johan Elmander.

What followed was an exceptional piece of skill as Hooper took one touch before firing an unstoppable volley over Vorm, much to the amazement of the home crowd.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City

Dyer’s injury was confirmed as a fractured ankle at half-time, and while City will have wished him all the best, focus was soon to switch on how to turn one point into three.

Another Bassong header drifted wide from an early corner, before some persistence from Nathan Redmond allowed him to fire a cross that no City player could beat Vorm to in the six-yard box.

Swansea were still posing a threat but Whittaker surged forward on 58 minutes – reminiscent of last year’s game between the two sides at the Liberty Stadium – but this time he pulled his left-footed shot wide.

Pozuelo offered a reminder of the Welsh side’s capacity for fast interplay, playing a one-two with Michu before curling an effort over the bar and wide.

City earned a free-kick on 68 minutes – Redmond’s delivery from the left was flicked on by Hooper, and after Vorm had half-cleared with a punch, Michael Turner’s header came back off the underside of the crossbar, with Jordi Amat clearing.

Hooper then forced a smart reaction save from Vorm after being set up by Leroy Fer as the Canaries pressed ever more, with Redmond the next to fire wide on 80 minutes.

Josh Murphy took Redmond’s place to make his home senior debut, but it was Swansea who fashioned an opening with four minutes left on the clock – substitute Wilfried Bony curling just wide of Ruddy’s post from 20 yards.

That proved the be the last goal action as the teams shared the spoils.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City

GOALS: Norwich City: Gary Hooper (45) - Swansea City: Nathan Dyer (12)

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong (c), Olsson; Redmond (Josh Murphy 83), Howson, Johnson, Fer, Elmander (Becchio 76), Hooper. Subs not used: Nash (GK), Martin, Hoolahan, Garrido, R Bennett.

SWANSEA CITY: Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Williams (c), Davies; Canas, Shelvey, de Guzman; Dyer (Pozuelo 44), Hernandez (Lamah 83), Michu (Bony 75). Subs not used: Tremmel (GK), Taylor, Routledge, Tiendalli.


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