REPORT: WBA 0-2 CITYNORWICH City produced the perfect away performance to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.
Gary Hooper fired the Canaries into an early lead after an excellent through ball from Leroy Fer, and after some superb defensive resilience in the second half, Fer himself wrapped up the win in the penultimate minute.
The result ended a run of four consecutive losses on the road in the league and took the Canaries onto 17 points from 15 games.
Chris Hughton made three changes from the midweek defeat at Liverpool – Steven Whittaker and Michael Turner came into defence, while Hooper was re-introduced to the starting eleven. Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett and Wes Hoolahan all dropped to the bench.
There were five alterations to the Baggies team, most notably Diego Lugano replaced the suspended Jonas Olsson and Victor Anichebe started up front, with the in-form Shane Long among the substitutes.
Fer initially lined up on the left side of the four-man midfield for the Canaries, and Hughton’s men made a solid start in the opening ten minutes, edging possession at the Hawthorns.
They then took the lead on 13 minutes in fine style – Nathan Redmond picked out Fer with a precise ball, and the Dutch midfielder slipped in Hooper past the last defender.
The striker’s finish was instinctive, emphatic and left Boaz Myhill no chance as it nestled in the left-hand corner.
Youssouf Mulumbu had the Baggies’ first chance of note five minutes later, playing a neat one-two with Morgan Amalfitano before drilling a low shot straight at John Ruddy.
Redmond’s free-kick forced a smart stop from Myhill on 26 before the lively winger fired wide moments later after being set free by Johan Elmander.
Anichebe did well to test Ruddy from an unlikely angle as West Brom tried to push for an equaliser with the half coming to a close, before City got lucky on 40 minutes when a Chris Brunt corner bounced in the six-yard only to harmlessly trickle out for a goal kick.
HALF-TIME: West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Norwich City
The home team seemed buoyed by the introduction of Long and Saido Berahino at half-time, and Martin Olsson did well to bundle an effort off the line before Ruddy held a Billy Jones drive.
Some indecisive Canary defending almost allowed the Baggies to equalise on 52 minutes – neither Turner nor Sebastien Bassong took responsibility, leaving Stephane Sessegnon through on goal.
Thankfully he pushed his shot the wrong side of the post, much to the relief of City’s back four.
West Brom’s wealth of attacking talent meant they looked the more threatening but Norwich carried plenty on the counter-attack with the pace of Redmond, and Jonny Howson curled a shot just over on 63 minutes.
Up the other end, Olsson got away with a miscued clearance across his own six-yard box when Sessegnon’s effort was expertly saved by Ruddy. Anichebe then headed wide on 69 minutes as Steve Clarke’s men pushed.
Mulumbu fizzed a shot wide before Redmond pulled an effort his own wide when in acres of space on the right – City reached the final ten minutes still ahead in the match.
Berahino was the next Albion to spurn an opportunity, firing into the side-netting on 86 minutes before Ruddy was at full-stretch to deny Long’s header.
And Albion's adventure in attack cost them in the 89th minute when Redmond found himself in space once more on the left, and played a delightful pass for Leroy Fer to send Myhill the wrong way and secure a superb victory.
GOALS: Norwich City: Gary Hooper (13), Leroy Fer (89)
WEST BROMWICH ALBION: Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Lugano, Ridgewell (Long 45); Yacob, Mulumbu; Amalfitano (Berahino 45), Sessegnon, Brunt (c); Anichebe (Vydra 81). Subs not used: L Daniels (GK), Dawson, Popov, Morrison.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker (Martin 89), Turner, Bassong (c), Olsson; Redmond, Howson, Johnson, Fer; Elmander (Josh Murphy 76), Hooper (Becchio 90). Subs not used: Nash (GK), Hoolahan, Garrido, R Bennett.