Norwich City 4, Newcastle United 2
PUBLISHED: 17:03 10 December 2011 | UPDATED: 15:38 11 December 2011
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Norwich City's air force inflicted serious damage on Newcastle United's depleted defence to give most of those packed into another Carrow Road full house a thrilling Premier League victory to enjoy.
Recalled skipper Grant Holt scored with two headers and Steve Morison headed another as both players took their tally to six goals for the season, while Wes Hoolahan, also back in the starting line-up, was the other scorer.
Two brilliantly-taken goals by Demba Ba kept Newcastle in contention for much of the afternoon, but the visitors had to play the final 25 minutes with 10 men after Dan Gosling was shown a straight red card for a foul on Russell Martin.
A highly entertaining contest was watched by City’s biggest home gate since 1983, a new all-seater record of 26,816.
After City had clear penalty claims ignored for a handling offence by Davide Santon, Hoolahan gave them the lead six minutes before the break with the final touch from Andrew Surman’s corner.
But Newcastle levelled in first-half stoppage time when Ba finished coolly from Yohan Cabaye’s pass.
Two goals in four minutes, headers from Holt and Morison, seemed to put City in control, especially when Gosling received his marching orders.
But a mistake by Zak Whitbread enabled Ba to score a splendidly-taken second, and it was left to Holt to head home a free-kick from substitute Bradley Johnson eight minutes from time to wrap up the points.
Manager Paul Lambert made major changes, bringing back four of his promotion-winning squad and leaving out three of his summer signings.
Defender Zak Whitbread made his first appearance since August after recovering from a hamstring injury, replacing Leon Barnett.
And there were recalls for David Fox, Hoolahan and Holt at the expense of Bradley Johnson, Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington, all of whom were on the bench.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew made five changes in all. He was without defender Steven Taylor, ruled out for the season after an Achilles operation, skipper Fabricio Coloccini (thigh) and midfielder Danny Guthrie (groin), and left out Peter Lovenkrands and Hatem Ben Arfa from the team that started the 3-0 home defeat by Chelsea.
Into the side came James Perch, Santon, Gosling and Shola Ameobi, while Jonas Gutierrez returned after suspension.
In the opening minute, Holt flicked on a Tierney long throw but Morison was not quite able to control it and the ball dropped out for a goal-kick.
A long ball from Naughton almost caused Newcastle problems in the sixth minute, with Krul having to dash out of his area to clear from Morison.
Ruddy was tested twice in a matter of seconds, having to palm away a cross from Gutierrez after the wide man got away from Naughton, before getting behind a follow-up shot from Obertan.
The Canaries won their first corner in the 13th minute and although it was cleared, they stayed on the offensive and Shola Ameobi protested long and hard after being penalised for a foul on Holt on the edge of the Newcastle area,
After Ameobi was lectured but not booked, Fox’s free-kick deflected off the wall for corner. Surman took it, but Crofts was penalised for catching Ameobi as he stretched for the loose ball and he was shown the first yellow card.
Things were warming up and after a frank exchange of views between Russell Martin and Ba, City swept forward and Naughton crossed into the area, only for Morison to head straight at Krul.
Holt burst through with a shooting chance but his low effort was blocked brilliantly by Simpson and as the Canaries kept pressing, Fox fired high into the crowd.
Gosling volleyed wide for United midway through the half from a Ryan Taylor cross, their best effort so far.
There were loud appeals for a penalty after 27 minutes when Santon appeared to cut out a cross from Naughton with his right arm but, to the dismay of the home crowd, the officials, including the assistant referee on that side of the pitch, were unimpressed.
Naughton did well to stop Ba getting in a shot as Newcastle hit back, but as City responded, Surman spoiled a good interception with a poorly-struck shot that rebounded to safety.
Fox was the second player booked after 34 minutes for bringing down Ameobi on halfway
Ruddy had to make a flying save moments later, jumping to his left to keep out an effort from Cabaye that took a wicked deflection off Fox.
A neat passing move almost opened up Newcastle as Holt’s attempt to cross was cut out, then Simpson had to head clear from Surman’s cross.
The Canaries took the lead after 39 minutes, Hoolahan scoring from a corner that Newcastle keeper Krul hotly disputed.
Krul caught Tierney’s cross by his right-hand post and put a foot out of play, referee Atkinson awarding a corner, but the keeper protested he had not taken the ball behind the line.
Surman took the kick, which was met by a powerful Crofts header that was blocked on the line by Taylor, but as Simpson tried to clear, Hoolahan got enough of a touch to knock the ball home for his second goal of the season.
But just as one minute of added time was announced at the end of the half, Newcastle levelled through Ba.
Cabaye was the provider with a perfectly weighted through-ball and as the City defence were left looking in vain for an offside flag, Ba controlled it neatly, before sliding his shot past Ruddy.
• Half-time: Norwich City 1, Newcastle United 1
Newcastle could have gone ahead one minute after the restart when Obertan’s determined run enabled Ameobi to cross from the left, but Ba was unable to keep the ball down and hooked his shot over the top
United won a free-kick on the edge of the Norwich area when Naughton blocked off Gutierrez, and Ruddy did not look entirely comfortable as he failed to connect with Taylor’s kick as it drifted across his six-yard box and out of play.
Referee Atkinson produced the third yellow card 10 minutes into the half when Hoolahan blocked a quickly-taken free-kick, awarded rather generously for a foul on Gutierrez.
Ruddy collected a low drive from Ba without too much trouble and, as City broke, Gosling’s name was next into the book for a foul on Hoolahan.
With 59 minutes gone, Holt restored City’s lead with his fifth goal of the season.
There were more appeals for handball against Santon when he cut out a cross from the right, but referee Atkinson awarded a corner, which was taken short. Fox delivered the cross, after a one-two with Hoolahan, and after Holt had his first header blocked, he followed up with a second header that went in off the crossbar.
Four minutes later, it was 3-1 as Morison grabbed his sixth goal for the Canaries.
A careless pass by Cabaye fell to Crofts on the right, and he delivered the perfect cross for Morison to power a header past Krul.
There was further drama after 65 minutes when Newcastle were reduced to 10 men. Gosling was late with his challenge on Russell Martin just inside the Norwich half and was shown a straight red card.
The City defender hobbled back into the action after treatment, but had clearly taken a nasty crack on his right leg.
But 10-man Newcastle pulled a goal back out of the blue after 71 minutes when Ba scored his second of the match after a bad error by Whitbread.
The defender was caught in possession as he tried to be too elaborate just inside the Norwich half, and Ameobi picked out Ba, who showed deft footwork before rifling a shot past Ruddy.
United took heart from the goal and Cabaye’s long-range effort was deflected into Ruddy’s hands. Then Obertan tested the keeper from a tight angle.
City made their first change with 13 minutes to go when Bradley Johnson replaced Surman.
Fox had a long-range effort deflected wide as the Canaries tried to restore their two-goal advantage.
Sammy Amoebi was United’s first substitute when he replaced Obertan with nine minutes left.
But City took a grip on the game eight minutes from time when Johnson floated in a free-kick from the left and Holt powered in a header for his second of the afternoon.
Newcastle made two changes in stoppage time when first Smith, then Ferguson, were sent on.
• Result: Norwich City 4, Newcastle United 2
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Naughton, Russell Martin, Whitbread (Barnett, 83), Tierney; Fox; Crofts, Surman (Bradley Johnson, 77); Hoolahan (Jackson, 84); Morison, Holt. Subs (not used): Rudd, Bennett, Pilkington, Wilbraham.
• Newcastle United: Krul, Ryan Taylor, Simpson, Perch, Santon (Ferguson, 90); Obertan (Sammy Ameobi, 81), Cabaye, Gosling, Gutierrez; Ba, Shola Ameobi (Smith, 90). Subs (not used): Elliot, Lovenkrands, Ben Arfa, Best.
• Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
• Attendance: 26,816
• Goals: City: Hoolahan (39), Holt (59, 82), Morison (63). Newcastle: Ba (45, 71)
• Red card: Newcastle: Gosling (65)
• Bookings: City: Crofts (15), Fox (34), Hoolahan (55). Newcastle: Shola Ameobi (40), Gosling (57)