Report - Swansea City 3-4 Norwich City
8th December 2012
Swansea City had their first half performance to blame as they saw their 6-match unbeaten run end at home against Norwich City, who recorded their first away victory.of the season.
The Canaries stormed into a 3-goal lead at the break as the Swans were sloppy in defence, while I'm sure goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel would have liked to have done better with at least one of the first 2 goals. Holt added further to the deficit with an unstoppable header, as he was unmarked to bring further misery to an unforgettable half of football for Swansea City.
The Swans battled brilliantly in the second half to close in on the 3-goal deficit and they might have got a point if Shechter wasn't denied his first Swansea goal due to a harsh foul from Michu on the goalkeeper.
It seems that Laudrup has to adjust his squad for an injury to a new player each week, and with Hernandez missing the Arsenal trip last weekend, this week Leon Britton sat out with a problem, though we were fortunate to welcome back Wayne Routledge.
Michael Laudrup said both teams were going into the game on "the same level" given their recent unbeaten run, but the visitors looked by far the stronger of the two in the opening exchanges. Swansea City were unbeaten in the last six games, and if it had to end, which every run inevitably does, it was always a good bet that it would be Norwich City. They did the double over us last season and there`s every chance the same could occur this year.
While the Canaries frustrated us last season at the Liberty Stadium with their pressure and intensity high up the pitch, they didn`t approach the game in the same way this afternoon but they hardly needed to in the opening 45 minutes.
They sat further back in their own half when the hosts had possession in defence, but it was the defence that somewhat gifted the visitors such a high lead at the interval. To say they gifted the Canaries the lead shouldn`t take anything away from them though - they did indeed score quality goals that deserve recognition. Ashley Williams could have done better for the opener, as the visitors broke forward and completed a Swansea-esque move to net the opener after 16 minutes. Full back Whittaker played a decent one-two with Snodgrass, before cutting inside - getting the better of Williams before firing a low shot past Tremmel at his near post.
While the Swans couldn`t take their early chances, Norwich City certainly took theirs. Danny Graham returned to the lone striker role after a spell on the sidelines and he went close to scoring. He saw a header come back off the bar from de Guzman`s cross. Michu also went close but his shot deflected off a team-mate before bouncing a yard or so wide of the target.
That was about it in terms of goal opportunities for the hosts as the Canaries controlled the proceedings.
Hughton`s side netted twice in the final 5 minutes to take quite an unbelievable 3-goal lead at half time, as the Swans were left shocked - not only by the scoreline but by their poor efforts in the opening period.
The second goal saw Bassong head well at the far post - converting Grant Holt`s cross from the left flank. Gerhard Tremmel was beaten again at his near post and he could have done better as he struggled to get down quick enough to keep the ball out.
When it couldn`t have got much worse, it did, as it was 3-0 with a minute of the opening half remaining. After assisting the second, Grant Holt scored the third, and again, the Swans struggled to deal with a cross into the box. Snodgrass delivered a pacey in-swinging free-kick from the left and Holt left his marker - Ki Sung Yeung - to power a header past the helpless Tremmel and into the same right corner of the net.
HALF TIME: SWANSEA CITY 0-3 NORWICH CITY
Norwich you could say had the game all but won at half time, but we`ve seen the character in the Swansea City side in previous games - and they don`t give up without a fight - they were close to completing a remarkable comeback. If they did though, it would have been harsh on Norwich as the Swans produced a first half performance that reflected the scoreline at the break.
The visitors went close to wrapping the game up for good early on after the restart. If they did, it would have been one of the best goals of the season to date. A beautiful flick up from Snodgrass put Johnson through on goal and with his first touch he looked to touch it brilliantly with the outside of his foot. Fortunately it bounced down off the bar and into safety.
From then on, the hosts took control as they looked to reduce the deficit, and they took just 6 minutes to get on the scoresheet. The ball was worked out to Ben Davies on the left flank, and he placed a pinpoint low cross to Michu who fired it in first time to find the bottom far right corner.
Laudrup`s side now looked like the one that we`ve seen in recent games, the one playing superb attacking football and scoring excellent goals to pick up impressive wins against the likes of West Brom and Arsenal.
Less than ten minutes later, it was only 3-2 with the game wide open for anyone. Nathan Dyer was superb in the lead up. He raced down a ball as it approached the by-line, using his pace to beat an opposition player to the ball, before delivering a testing cross. Norwich failed to clear the danger and the ball fell nicely to de Guzman to volley it home in impressive fashion. The ball was quickly collected from the net to try and get an equaliser with still 31 minutes remaining.
The home fans were in raptures when substitute Itay Shechter looked to have got that vital equaliser following a corner. Michu looked to win the ball with the goalkeeper, both failed to do so and it fell to the striker to net from close range. However, referee Howard Webb ruled it out, believing Michu had committed a foul on the goalkeeper. It was an extremely harsh decision, as both players looked to win the aerial challenge. Webb ignored a very similar incident against Tremmel in the first half, and Shechter and the Swans were very unfortunate to be denied a third goal to level the scores.
Despite the setback, the Swans still had time to net a goal to gain a valuable point, but their hopes of doing so were over with around 15 minutes left. A long ball was played through for Grant Holt to run on to. He did well to fool the ref into awarding a free kick against Ashley Williams, as it simply looked a case of both players tangling to win possession. Snodgrass stepped up to curl an unstoppable effort over the wall and yet again into the right corner of the net.
At 4-2, it was over surely, but Swansea City still made it a nervous final few injury time minutes as they scored another. de Guzman delivered an excellent cross that beat everyone, leaving the goalkeeper in no-man`s land as Michu headed easily into an empty net at the far post.
Surprisingly, only three injury time minutes were to be played, but given the amount of goals being scored, that was easily enough time to see another one go in. They came close when Shechter nodded on a long ball up from Rangel, but the looping ball fell harmlessly onto the roof of the net.
Norwich City won their first away game of the season and it was definitely deserved. The Swans had an awful first half performance to blame for the defeat, and it could have been very different had they shown the quality in the second half throughout the entire game. But as Laudrup stated afterwards, you have to be at 100% for the entire 90 minutes at this level, otherwise you get punished.
Goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel has been in impressive form since Vorm`s injury at Manchester City, but today he struggled. Before today, he gave Laudrup the best reasons he could to keep him in between the sticks, but on this showing, Vorm should return. He was poor for the second goal and didn`t look quite as solid as he has in all of his previous matches.
The Swans only drop to 8th and they`ll look to bounce back with a difficult trip to Spurs next Sunday (1.30pm).