Norwich City 1 Tottenham 0
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Norwich City breathed fresh life into their Premier League survival fight with a battling 1-0 win over Tottenham at Carrow Road.
Robert Snodgrass curled home a priceless second half winner for the Canaries to pull four points clear of the bottom three in a tense encounter with John Ruddy denying Tottenham in a stirring final quarter which also saw Bradley Johnson’s free kick thump Hugo Lloris’ crossbar.
Hughton made one change from the starting line that lost 2-0 at West Ham with Ricky van Wolfswinkel preferred to Gary Hooper. The former Tottenham trainee dropped to a home bench that also included fit-again midfielder Jonny Howson after his two-month lay-off with a back complaint. Republic of Ireland duo Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington were both named among the substitutes.
Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood restored Emmauel Adebayor to his line up after the prolific Togo international missed the midweek Europa League 1-0 defeat at Dnipro. Former City loanee Kyle Naughton started at right-back for Spurs with Etienne Capoue deployed in front of the Spurs’ back four and Adebayor supported by Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele. Kyle Walker (hip) and Younes Kaboul (calf) were not included in the visitors’ matchday squad.
Nathan Redmond forced a corner inside the first three minutes after dragging Michael Dawson out of his central station, but van Wolfswinkel was unable to connect with Seb Bassong’s flick header as Hugo Lloris collected above the Dutch striker’s head inside his six-yard box.
Snodgrass and the overlapping Russell Martin fashioned another chance shortly after but van Wolfswinkel’s far post header from an acute angle failed to trouble the Spurs’ keeper.
Tottenham underlined their obvious attacking threat when Demeble dipped inside Martin Olsson but was unable to gather Lennon’s slide rule pass with City’s defence split. The visitors were forced into an early change in the 13th minute when Nacer Chadli replaced a limping Capoue.
The industrious Leroy Fer forced Dawson to concede a corner once Tottenham had re-organised but the powerful centre back did enough to distract Bassong who could only glance Snodgrass’ set piece over on the angle of the Tottenham six yard box.
Lennon lined up Olsson at the opposite end but a heavy cross sailed over Adebayor before Paulinho’s right-footed strike drifted wide after a patient build up from Tottenham.
Norwich continued to probe down the flanks with Olsson latching onto Johnson’s glorious lift over the top of Naughton, but the Swede’s low driven cut-back evaded the late-arriving Fer. Snodgrass and van Wolfswinkel then combined to leave Danny Rose on the deck, but the Scot’s veering run ended with a shot deflected against Jan Vertonghen.
Johnson was the latest to profit from Fer’s retrieval work in the 33rd minute when he advanced but slammed against Dawson and the centre back was again more than a match for Snodgrass’ set piece before Bassong flicked wide on the stretch after the Canaries had re-cycled the ball.
Van Wolfswinkel earned a lecture from referee Pawson after a lunging challenge upended Vertonghen with the Dutchman momentarily sensing a rare chance to advance now Tottenham had gradually exerted a greater degree of control after the opening skirmishes.
Johnson’s defensive instincts denied Adebayor his first real opportunity to test JRuddy in the 38th minute after Chadli escaped Olsson’s attentions. Vertonghen’s shove on van Wolfswinkel allowed Snodgrass to whip in a free kick in the final seconds of the first half which Lloris parried behind and Dembele dealt comfortably with the Scot’s corner.
City broke through two minutes after the restart with Snodgrass guiding a low, left-footed finish around the diving Lloris into the Frenchman’s bottom corner from 20 yards after Johnson gathered possession following van Wolfswinkel’s harassment of Nabil Bentaleb on half-way.
Spurs upped the intensity levels in the aftermath with Chadli taking Martin back into his own area but the full-back deflected his cross behind before Redmond led the breakout with the home fans now approaching the volume levels of the battling goalless 0-0 draw against Manchester City last time out in Norfolk.
Johnson burst down the left before veering around his own man, Redmond, but the cross was too close to Lloris with van Wolfswinkel ready to pounce.
Redmond’s wild right foot finish sailed over as Norwich looked to remain proactive on the counter but the hosts were indebted to Ruddy who bravely smothered at the feet of Adebayor after Bassong was caught in possession. Snodgrass then swivelled onto his left again but Lloris grasped at the second attempt.
Yobo was fortunate again in the 64th minute when his fresh air clearance was mopped up by Bassong stationed behind him after Rose raced clear down the left.
Ruddy’s decision-making had to be spot on a minute later with a diving stop when Adebayor and Paulinho cut City apart once more.
Sherwood introduced a second striker in Roberto Soldado for the Brazilian holding midfielder and the Spaniard slammed into the side netting 10 yards out with his first touch from Adebayor’s lay-off.
Soldado’s glancing header six yards out then dropped wide of Ruddy’s far-post from Lennon’s cross with City unable to lift the growing siege.
Adebayor was unable to climb sufficiently to generate the power to test the England keeper from Chadli’s teasing lifted centre.
Van Wolfswinkel made way for Hooper in the 72nd minute to a standing ovation from the home fans for a selfless shift up against both Dawson and Vertonghen.
The Belgian crudely went through Hooper to present Snodgrass with a free kick 25 yards out which the Scot whipped just wide with Lloris scrambling across his line. Ruddy saved his side again in the 81st minute with a fine smothering stop to deny Chadli seven yards out. The marauding Snodgrass then skied Hooper’s cushioned roll over from Johnson’s lifted pass with the game swinging from end to the other.
Johnson unleashed a thunderous free kick that cannoned against Lloris’ bar before the French keeper kicked away Redmond’s follow up in a breathless finale. The England Under-21 made way for Hoolahan shortly afterwards for his first action since last month’s transfer window saga.
Hooper then burst free but his cut-back for Tettey agonisingly eluded the Norwegian international who attempted a cheeky back heel. Chadli drilled at Ruddy in stoppage time before the final whistle brought huge cheers and waves of relief around Carrow Road.
• Norwich: Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson, Tettey, Johnson, Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond (Hoolahan 86), van Wolfswinkel (Hooper 72). Subs (not used): Bunn, Whittaker, Howson, Pilkington, Elmander.
• Booking: Ruddy (time-wasting, 90)
• Goal: Snodgrass (47)
• Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose (Townsend 82), Capoue (Chadli 13), Bentaleb, Paulinho (Soldado 65), Lennon, Adebayor, Dembele. Subs (not used): Friedel, Fryers, Eriksen, Kane.
• Bookings: Dembele (dissent, 32); Vertonghen (foul on Hooper, 79); Dawson (foul on Hooper, 88).
• Added on time: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)
• Attendance: 26,834