Norwich 4-2 Newcastle: Holt, Ba double, Gosling sent-off
Grant Holt scored twice as Norwich City beat ten-man Newcastle United 4-2 in a thrilling Premier League match at Carrow Road.
The Canaries took the lead through Wes Hoolahan’s scrappy finish, but Demba Ba levelled moments before half time with an exquisite finish.
Norwich re-established their lead through Holt’s header, before Steve Morison capitalised on Dan Gosling’s error to power in another header to make it 3-1.
Gosling was sent off for a second bookable offence moments later before Ba’s well-taken second made it 3-2. But Norwich’s fears of a nervy finish receded when Holt’s header rounded off a superb win for the Canaries.
Both of these sides came into the game with something to prove. Norwich were dismantled 5-1 by Manchester City - which included a goal scored by the shoulder of Mario Balotelli - while the manner of Newcastle’s 3-0 defeat by Chelsea left a sour taste for Alan Pardew.
But a depleted Newcastle, playing James Perch and Danny Simpson in central defence in the absence of Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, started slowly at Carrow Road.
Early chances for Holt and Morison were spurned as the home side pinned Pardew’s side inside their own half for sustained periods.
So it was no surprise that the Canaries took the lead in the 39th minute – albeit controversially.
Andrew Surman’s corner was met by the head of Andrew Crofts, who forced Simpson into a goal-line clearance. But the ricochet fell to Hoolahan, who scrambled the ball into the net.
But Newcastle claimed that the corner should not have been awarded in the first place, insisting goalkeeper Tim Krul had prevented Marc Tierney’s cross from going out.
But injury-hit Newcastle, still without the anchor of their midfielder Cheick Tiote, responded on the stroke of half time with a moment of pure quality.
Latching onto Yohan Cabaye’s wonderful pass over the defence, Ba controlled the ball with his first touch and exquisitely rolled it into the bottom corner with his second.
But for all their promise, Newcastle looked frail at the back and Holt finally got on the score sheet just before the hour.
Finding space in the box to head in Crofts’ cross from the right at the second time of asking – after Krul had repelled Holt’s initial effort.
Newcastle’s resilience has been a trademark of this campaign but they self-destructed when Gosling inexplicably misplaced a pass straight to Crofts, who picked out Morison to power in Norwich’s third.
Things got worse for Gosling and his team when he was shown his second yellow card for clumsily clattering into Russell Martin.
Newcastle weren’t done though and Ba showed his quality again to latch onto Shola Ameobi’s pass, shift the ball onto his left foot, and find the bottom corner with another classy finish.
Sensing a Newcastle comeback , the goal left Carrow Road biting their nails for the next few minutes. But a stirring Magpies comeback failed to materialise.
Instead, Norwich were able to put the gloss on a deserved win when Holt claimed his second of the game after finding space at a corner to head in Norwich’s fourth.
It was Pardew’s first defeat by Norwich as a manager and highlighted Newcastle’s need to reinforce a threadbare defence in January, if they are to sustain their charge for a Champions League place.
Michael Da Silva (on Twitter - @mjdasilva) / Eurosport
Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Whitbread, Martin, Tierney, Crofts, Fox, Hoolahan, Surman, Morison, Holt. Subs: Rudd, Johnson, Jackson, Pilkington, Bennett, Barnett, Wilbraham.
Newcastle: Krul, Santon, Simpson, Perch, Ryan Taylor, Obertan, Cabaye, Gosling, Gutierrez, Ba, Shola Ameobi. Subs: Elliot, Ben Arfa, Lovenkrands, Smith, Best, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson