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8 August 2015

Manager reacts to opening day defeat

ALEX Neil admits Norwich City’s failure to capitalise on possession cost them in their Premier League curtain-raiser against Crystal Palace.

Palace ran out 3-1 winners at Carrow Road thanks to goals from Wilfried Zaha, Damien Delaney and Yohan Cabaye, with Nathan Redmond’s long-range strike sandwiched in between.

Lewis Grabban hit the post as City raced out of the blocks on their return to the top flight, but Neil says the fact that they didn’t take advantage on the scoresheet at that point was their downfall.

“Certainly for the first half, in general play we were the better side. We dominated most of the possession, but having that dominance you’ve got to get goals. We got punished up the other end,” he told Norwich City TV.

“I think we’ll play worse and win. In the first half we were dominant, they got a goal, but I thought we had two or three good opportunities. At this level, you have to convert them.

“The second goal was really disappointing. We switched off and didn’t recover from the second ball. We’ve got to respond, we had enough bodies in that area of the pitch.

“I’ve learned a harsh version of the Premier League. You can dominate and play well, but if you don’t score when you’re on top and you don’t defend well enough, it will cost you.”

Neil was quizzed by reporters about the decision of referee Simon Hooper to disallow Cameron Jerome’s second half goal, when the striker was penalised for a high challenge as he hooked the ball into the net.

He replied: “I’ve seen it back quite a few times and I thought it should have stood. I think the lad was the wrong side of Cameron – if he was in front of them, then his foot is coming over to potentially hit him in the face.

“I actually thought it was disallowed for a handball, that’s why I wasn’t remonstrating too much at the side. When I found out it was for a high foot – nine times out of ten, they are given, which is disappointing.

“At that stage of the game, we were the team trying to push to get a goal. It changed the complexion of the match.

“It was a fantastic finish by Cameron, he managed to get up, swivel and put it into the net, so it’s disappointing.”

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