Norwich City 0 Newcastle United 0
21:40 28 January 2014
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Norwich City ground out a Premier League point in a fractious goalless draw against Newcastle at Carrow Road on Tuesday night that saw both sides have a man sent off in the closing stages.
Loic Remy and Bradley Johnson were both dismissed by referee Chris Foy after an ugly altercation that sparked a minor melee which sucked in players from both sides before order was restored.
Foy dismissed Remy first for an apparent head butt gesture towards Johnson after the midfielder had raised his hands into the Frenchman’s chest.
City were fortunate to escape with a point on a night when the visitors dominated for long spells and struck the woodwork three times although Gary Hooper also slammed a second half effort against the top of Tim Krul’s bar.
Hughton made one change to his starting line up from the side that beat Hull 1-0 in the Premier League last time out with Anthony Pilkington replacing Jonas Gutierrez, who was ineligible to face his parent club. Wes Hoolahan was also omitted from the Canaries’ matchday squad after a fortnight dominated by the Irishman’s future following a rejected transfer request and an initial enquiry from Aston Villa earlier in the transfer window.
Newcastle’s influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye was similarly absent with the Frenchman poised to tie up a big-money transfer to Paris St Germain.
Pilkington was making his first Norwich start since damaging his hamstring in the corresponding league fixture and the wide player was straight into the action with a burst past Mathieu Debuchy before carving his intended cross into the Lower Barclay, The dangerous Remy twisted onto his left at the opposite end but his curling effort drifted wide of John Ruddy’s far post. Robert Snodgrass clipped Remy on the edge of the Canaries’ own penalty box in the ninth minute, but Davide Santon hammered a free kick against the home wall before Debuchy rifled the follow up behind.
Martin Olsson conceded a cheap corner with Newcastle continuing to dictate proceedings but Ryan Bennett bailed out Ruddy with a far post headed clearance after the England keeper had been caught under the flight of the cross.
City were seemingly unable to counter-act Newcastle’s extra man in midfield in the early skirmishes as Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita patrolled in front of the Magpies’ back four and the likes of Sammy Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa and Moussa Sissoko powered forward in support of the mobile Remy.
Gary Hooper sparked the home crowd into life when he won a battling duel against Debuchy before feeding Ricky van Wolfswinkel who invited Leroy Fer to advance and thump a 25-yard strike that brushed Steven Taylor for a home corner, but van Wolfswinkel miscued his glancing header from Snodgrass’ set piece.
Ruddy foiled Remy in the 19th minute after Olsson was over-run on halfway which resulted in a rapier counter allowing Sissoko to burst free and pick out his countryman. Johnson then hacked off his own line after Ruddy’s low parry in diverting Remy’s initial cross struck the retreating midfielder and clipped the base of a post from close range before Johnson completed the clearance.
Hooper again tried to drag City onto the front foot but his cut back intended for van Wolfswinkel merely sparked another visiting raid with Remy predictably the outlet as the Frenchman curled against Ruddy’s opposite post from 20 yards. The over-worked England keeper then superbly parried Ben Arfa’s deflected strike which brushed Seb Bassong. City’s struggles to establish parity with the slick visitors was typified by Pilkington’s mis-control in the 28th minute with Norwich threatening to make a rare incursion into the visitors’ half.
Remy required treatment after losing a muscular aerial challenge with Bennett just past the half-hour mark which did enable Hughton to engage Hooper in a lengthy discussion during the ensuing stoppage as the Canaries’ boss strived to check Newcastle’s momentum. But there was precious little evidence of any sea change following those touchline talks with Pardew’s men still totally dominant.
Ben Arfa side footed over 12 yards out after Sammy Ameobi had picked out the unmarked wide player before Hooper finally pressed Krul into action in the 43rd minute with a low right-footed strike the Dutchman pushed around his post.
The scale of home frustration, however, was underlined from the corner when Snodgrass and a pocket of home fans became embroiled in an ugly verbal spat after the Scot’s centre was easily cleared at the near post. Ben Arfa slammed a free kick against Norwich’s wall in the immediate aftermath of that strange fracas before the home fans voiced their displeasure en masse on the half-time whistle.
Hughton opted not to change his personnel at the break and Snodgrass dragged the first shot in anger wide on the restart after Hooper and Pilkington had combined to get Norwich further up the pitch than the majority of their first half labours. Van Wolfswinkel then hammered against the body of Taylor in another positive sign of intent.
City survived sustained penalty appeals from Newcastle towards referee Foy in the 52nd minute when Ben Arfa went to ground after an attempted challenge from Bennett. Van Wolfswinkel was not so fortunate when he crudely hauled down the Frenchman a yard outside the Norwich penalty area – Remy slamming the woodwork for the third time for the visitors with Ruddy beaten. Fer was cautioned for bringing down Ben Arfa but this time Remy’s radar proved less precise before the unmarked French striker’s follow up header lacked the power to trouble Ruddy.
Hughton made his move with a double change at the start of the final quarter as Johan Elmander and Nathan Redmond replaced van Wolfswinkel and Pilkington respectively. Elmander forced a corner in his first meaningful act after Ben Arfa was forced off with cramp, which brought Norwich’s best chance of the game, when Hooper’s swivelling volley from Redmond’s cut-back slammed the top of Krul’s bar from 12 yards.
The game erupted in the 80th minute with a flashpoint between Remy and Johnson ending with both red carded by Foy once order had been restored following a melee involving players from both sides. Johnson appeared to shove Remy in the chest to spark the original altercation before Remy made an apparent head butt gesture in the direction of the Norwich midfielder. Hughton reacted by withdrawing Hooper for Alex Tettey.
Snodgrass was superbly denied by Krul with a stooping header in the first of six additional minutes, but Newcastle had their moments in the final seconds when second half substitute Shola Ameobi unleashed a wicked cross that flashed across Ruddy’s six-yard box.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson, Snodgrass, Fer, Johnson, Pilkington (Redmond 71), van Wolfswinkel (Elmander 71), Hooper (Tettey 84). Subs (not used): Bunn, Whittaker, Garrido, Becchio.
• Booking: Fer (foul on Ben Arfa, 65)
• Sending off: Johnson (foul on Remy, 82)
• Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Tiote, Sissoko, Anita, Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 75), Remy, Sammy Ameobi (Haidara 87). Subs (not used): Elliot, Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett, Gosling, Armstrong.
• Booking: Sissoko (foul on Ruddy, 58)
• Sending off: Remy (foul on Johnson, 81)
• Added on time: 2 minutes / 6 minutes
• Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)
• Attendance: 26,752