Live Commentary: West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Norwich City - as it happened

Gary Hooper of Norwich celebrates scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City at The Hawthorns on December 07, 2013
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Read how Norwich won their first away game since September with a 2-0 smash-and-grab victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage.

Norwich City travelled to West Bromwich Albion this afternoon knowing that victory would see them leapfrog their opponents in the Premier League table.

Canaries boss Chris Hughton restored Gary Hooper to his starting lineup and the former Celtic striker rewarded his manager by scoring the opening goal on 13 minutes.

The visitors survived a strong penalty claim in the second half, and then withstood a barrage of Albion attacks, with Stephane Sessegnon and Shane Long both guilty of missing great chances.

With the Baggies still pushing forward, Norwich caught them on the break in the 89th minute as Leroy Fer scored his third goal in five games to secure Hughton a first top-flight away win since September.

Below, you can read how the action unfolded at The Hawthorns, courtesy of Sports Mole's live coverage.


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2.07pmAfternoon, all! Norwich's trip to West Brom is one of five 3.00pm Premier League kickoffs being brought to you live by Sports Mole today. Let's get straight to the team news, shall we?

2.09pmWest Brom make five changes, and Norwich three to the starting XIs that lost in midweek. Let's begin with the hosts. The visitors will just be thankful that Luis Suarez isn't lining up against them!

2.11pmWBA: Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Lugano, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Brunt; Anichebe

2.13pmSUBS: L Daniels, Dawson, Long, Vydra, Popov, Morrison, Berahino

2.15pmNORWICH: Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, Johnson, Fer; Elmander, Hooper

2.17pmSUBS: Nash, Martin, Hoolahan, Garrido, Becchio, R Bennett, Josh Murphy

2.19pmA day after seeing England drawn against Uruguay in the World Cup, Three Lions fans will get a first-hand look at their captain Diego Lugano, who makes his maiden Premier League start.

2.21pmHe replaces the previously ever-present Jonas Olsson, who is suspended, in the Baggies defence. It is the first time this season that the Swede has not partnered Gareth McAuley at centre-back.

2.23pmVictor Anichebe, a £6m signing from Everton on transfer deadline day, opened his West Brom account in the defeat to City in midweek, is rewarded with a start today by manager Steve Clarke.

2.25pmShane Long is dropped to the bench and his strike partner on Wednesday, Saido Berahino, is also only among the substitutes as Stephane Sessegnon is restored to play in behind Anichebe.

2.27pmYoussouf Mulumbu returns from his ban to resume his excellent holding midfield partnership with Claudio Yacob, while Clarke again rotates at right-back as Billy Jones replaces Stephen Reid.

2.30pmVisiting manager Hughton is still without Robert Snodgrass, who has scored in his last two games against the Baggies, and record-signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but he does make changes up top.

2.32pmAnother summer forward recruit, Gary Hooper, is recalled to partner Johan Elmander in attack, as Hughton switches back to a 4-4-2 formation, with Wes Hoolahan dropping out of the midfield.

2.34pmThere are also two alterations made to a Canaries defence that has conceded more away goals [21] than any other side in the Premier League this season. Michael Turner and Steven Whittaker come in.

2.37pmRussell Martin and Ryan Bennett are both demoted to a bench that includes out-of-favour frontman Lucciano Becchio and young striker Josh Murphy among Hughton's attacking reserves.

2.40pmHEAD-TO-HEAD: Each side has won two and lost two of the four Premier League meetings between these two teams since Norwich's return to the top flight in 2011. Now-departed striker Grant Holt was among the scorers as the Canaries won 4-0 last season in the most eye-catching of those results.

2.43pmRESULT: Big news from our early kick off - Manchester United have suffered consecutive home league defeats for the first time since 2002, with Yohan Cabaye scoring the only goal of the game in the second half of Newcastle United's 1-0 win at Old Trafford. The Red Devils could be 15 points behind table-topping Arsenal, and eight points adrift of the Champions League places, by the end of the weekend!

2.46pmCanaries boss Chris Hughton has admitted that mistakes at the back - they have conceded a division-high 28 goals so far this term - are costing his side dear. He told reporters this week:

“I would like to think there isn’t an issue with a lack of confidence but, yes, you have to accept with the results we have had the confidence does seem to be lacking. That is normal when you concede goals. At the moment we seem to be punished for every mistake we make."


2.49pmAlbion are having their own struggles of late too, though, having only won one of their last eight Premier League games, and just two of their last 11 home matches in all competitions. However, manager Steve Clarke is relaxed about the situation and has insisted that he's not feeling any pressure.

He told reporters this week: “That’s just the way the game is... the short-termism. That’s the way it is now. It’s just a fact, if you lose a couple of games people start to look at you. And you can be the next one under pressure, I think we all accept it.”


2.51pmJust under 10 minutes until kickoff in the Midlands...

2.54pmONE TO WATCH: Gary Hooper has been a regular goalscorer at every level at which he has played, and he is desperate to prove that he can find the net in the Premier League too. The former Celtic poacher may just be the man who can fire in the goals which will lift Norwich up the table.

2.57pmPREDICTION: The Baggies have been struggling at home as of late and Norwich will be keen to show a positive response to their midweek thrashing by Liverpool. I'll sit on the fence and plump for 1-1.

1 minThe players observe a minute's silence to honour the life of former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday, before Norwich get us underway at The Hawthorns...

4 minA cautious start by both sides, with the Baggies having plenty of the ball around the halfway line. Leroy Fer is coming inside off the Norwich left to make up the numbers in the middle of the park.

6 minChris Brunt travels with the ball on the inside left channel before having a shot deflected behind for a corner, from which Gareth McAuley climbed high but fouled Canaries stopper John Ruddy.

7 minSessegnon slips the ball inside Martin Olsson on the West Brom right for full-back Billy Jones to run onto. His square pass is blocked behind by Bassong, but Albion opened Norwich up too easily there.

9 minThe Baggies break as Amalfitano shows great technique to finds Sessegnon with a side-footed pass on the half volley. He turns and runs with the ball, but Johnson does well to muscle him off it.

11 minAmalfitano gets to the byline on the right and sends in a cross which is just about a foot above Anichebe's head, and Brunt had not committed himself to make a late run to the back post.

13 minGOAL! WEST BROM 0-1 NORWICH (GARY HOOPER)

13 minNorwich lead and it is the man that I highlighted as the one to watch before the game who has opened the scoring! Hooper is slipped in by Fer and the pass takes a little deflection of McAuley's heel, falling perfectly into the path of the former Celtic striker, whose powerful finish across Boaz Myhill and into the bottom corner is emphatic. Norwich lead at The Hawthorns despite hardly having had a kick thus far!

15 minIt will be interesting to see if that goal boosts Norwich's confidence or West Brom continue to have the majority of the possession, as they did before Hooper's strike without creating anything of note.

18 minSHOT! Mulumbu plays a neat one-two with Amalfitano and Norwich do not react to close down the holding midfielder, whose strike is straight at Ruddy and tipped behind for a corner.

20 minAgain it is Mulumbu who is Albion's unlikely source of a goalscoring chance as he makes an unchecked run to the back post to head a cross tamely into Ruddy's gloves via the ground.

23 minMartin Olsson feels that he is fouled as he embarked on a run down the left, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on, only for sloppy West Brom passing to thwart their chances of breaking.

26 minSAVE! After Jones had brought down Fer in the middle of the West Brom half, Nathan Redmond dips the resultant free kick over the wall and it bounces awkwardly in front of Myhill, who palms clear.

27 minBOOKING: Baggies skipper Brunt becomes the first player from either side to be cautioned this afternoon, as Clattenburg shows him a yellow for a clumsy, fairly high challenge on Redmond.

29 minSHOTS! After latching onto a Hooper flick on, Elmander lets fly from 20 yards and sees his effort deflected behind, while Redmond slices a shot after a strong run into the stands a minute later.

31 minAlbion appear as if they have targeted the Norwich's left as a weakness and are getting both Jones and Amalfitano forward at every opportunity. Bassong is on hand to block another Jones cross.

33 minCHANCE! Brunt's excellent delivery from a corner is met by McAuley at the back post, but the Northern Ireland international could only glance his header wide after climbing above his marker Turner.

35 minSHOT! Great effort by Anichebe, who collects the ball while backing into Turner and creates room for himself to unleash a stinging shot on the volley which Ruddy parries behind at his neat post.

38 minRedmond has been Norwich's liveliest spark so far, but his final ball has been poor. Here he shows some neat footwork to skip past Ridgewell, but then hits his cross beyond Elmander at the far stick.

40 minBrunt's corner is again beautifully delivered to the back post, and Norwich make a mess of defending it, but Sessegnon fails to make contact with his audacious attempt at a close-range flick.

42 minUPDATE: Chelsea and Manchester City had each taken early leads in away matches at Stoke City and Southampton respectively, but they have been pegged back before the interval with goals from Potters striker Peter Crouch and the Saints' record signing, Pablo Osvaldo. Both games are level at 1-1.

44 minMore delightful quick feet from Redmond in the right corner, as he shifts the ball one way and then the other to fool Yacob, but his close control then fails him as his next touch knocks it out of play.

45 minWe are now entering the ONE minute of first-half stoppage time...

45+1 minHALF TIME: WEST BROM 0-1 NORWICH

3.52pmWest Brom's players leave the field to a chorus of boos at the end of a first-half in which Gary Hooper scored a 13th-minute opener to give Norwich City a narrow advantage at the break.

3.55pmThe former Celtic striker netted his third Premier League goal since joining the Canaries in the summer, latching on to Leroy Fer's through pass and finishing convincingly into the bottom corner.

3.57pmWest Brom had previously had most of the early possession, and have enjoyed the better of the chances since, with Gareth McAuley glancing a header wide and Victor Anichebe testing John Ruddy.

3.59pmSTATS: Hooper's goal is one of two Norwich shots on target, which is one less than Albion have had. The hosts also lead the possession stats, having enjoyed a sizeable 60% of it in the opening 45.

4.01pmBENCH WATCH: Albion chief Steve Clarke has several attacking options that he could turn to to change the game, including in-form Shane Long. Saido Berahino and Matej Vydra are others. Should Canaries boss Hughton want to reinforce his midfield, he could sacrifice Elmander for Wes Hoolahan.

46 minSUBSTITUTIONS: The action has resumed in the Midlands, and the hosts have made two early changes, swapping Ridgewell and Amalfitano for Long and Berahino. That means Brunt to left-back.

48 minPENALTY APPEAL! West Brom appeal for handball against Olsson, who was on the line to block Sessegnon's prod on goal, which seemed to be bound for the the bottom corner before it struck Olsson on the hand. It's a penalty, but referee Clattenburg, who may have been unsighted, awards nothing!

50 minElmander breaks the offside trap to run onto Howson's dinked ball over the top, but he never gets it fully under control, and he eventually attempts a cross to Hooper which Lugano slides to intercept.

52 minMISS! Sessegnon missed a sitter against Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago, and he has done so again here! In fairness, he fashions the opening for himself, running from the halfway line and getting the benefit of a couple of fortunate bounces before the ball breaks perfectly into his path 12 yards out. He is one-on-one with Ruddy, and tries to tuck it into the bottom corner, but ends up knocking it wide!

53 minBOOKING: The Baggies are stepping up the gears here as Long bursts in behind the Norwich defence and Whittaker tugs him down. Only a yellow card though, as Bassong was the covering defender.

55 minWest Brom's electric beginning to this second period has been stalled a little in this last coupe of minutes, with Norwich keeping the ball well. When they move into the final third, though, Redmond's cross is again hopeful and inaccurate as Lugano gets in front of Elmander to head clear.

58 minMulumbu powers his way through a couple of yellow shirts and into the right side of the area before standing up a cross into a dangerous area, but Long was caught on his heels 12 yards out.

60 minNorwich are now a danger on the counter, as Howson picks out Redmond with a great diagonal. The winger fizzes in a low cross, but Elmander cannot make contact under pressure from McAuley.

63 minSHOT! Hooper does really well to control a pass from Fer, hold off Lugano and lay the ball back to the edge of the box, where Howson takes a touch only to bend a curling effort just over the crossbar.

64 minSAVE! Sessegnon may be cursing his luck, but Olsson is certainly enjoying his fair share of fortune! After Mulumbu scuffs a shot across the box, the Swede passes the ball straight to the feet of Sessegnon six yards out, but, from a tight angle, Ruddy spreads himself to foil the Benin international.

67 minNorwich really aren't helping themselves. They withstand the initial Albion attack, but Bassong then puts them in trouble with a clumsy pass to Fer, who, inside his own area, tries to chest it down. Long pounces but is quickly dispossessed by Johnson. Handball claims against Fer are turned down.

68 minCHANCE! West Brom are knocking on the door, but their finishing continues to let them down. Mulumbu again drives into the box and his deflected shot loops over Bassong and straight to Long, who miscues a tame side-footed shot from eight yards out which dribbles into the gloves of Ruddy.

70 minCHANCE! Berahino slips in Jones, who, off balance while stretching to keep the ball in play, does well to pick out Anichebe, but his diving header from 10 yards goes well wide of the near post.

72 minRedmond gets in behind as the Baggies try to play offside. The Norwich winger travels with the ball into the box, but Lugano shows good recovery pace to come across and make a great sliding tackle.

74 minBOOKING: Norwich are doing everything that they can to slow down West Brom, so much so that Ruddy is cautioned for time wasting. They may need to make a change soon, as Bassong is limping.

76 minSHOT! A headed clearance falls to Mulumbu on the edge of the box, and the midfielder, with his back to goal, flicks the ball over his shoulder to turn away from Fer. He then shows superb feet to skip past Johnson and fire a low shot across the box, but a few yards wide of Ruddy's far post.

78 minSUBSTITUTION: Hughton replaces Elmander with young striker Josh Murphy, who picks up a yellow card almost immediately after his introduction for an over-enthusiastic challenge on Jones.

80 minIt has been relentless pressure from West Brom as they have been camped in the Norwich half for the last 30 minutes. With 10 to go, can Steve Clarke's men find what would be a deserved equaliser?

81 minSUBSTITUTION: Clarke uses his final change to throw on Czech striker Matej Vydra, the former Watford loanee that has yet to score for the Baggies this season, in place of Anichebe.

83 minSHOT! We have seen before that Brunt has a wand of a left foot, and he is allowed too much time and space to shoot here, unleashing a low, skidding 25-yard effort which Ruddy does well to gather.

85 minWest Brom have forced Norwich further and further back, and there are at least 15 players in the box when Berahino prods into the side netting when he really should have squared to Mulumbu.

87 minSAVE! Ruddy produces a superb stop to ensure Norwich stay ahead, as Long guides a header from Sessegnon's cross towards the far post, only for Ruddy to dive and palm away at full stretch!

89 minGOAL! WEST BROM 0-2 NORWICH (LEROY FER)

89 minThis is smash and grab if ever I've seen it. Ruddy quickly throws out to Redmond, who releases Fer with a chipped through ball. The Dutch midfielder has Hooper up with him, but instead cuts inside Lugano and thumps a low shot beyond Myhill to secure the Canaries a crucial three points today!

90+1 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Hughton winds the few minutes left on the clock down with a double change, swapping Whittaker and goalscorer Hooper for Becchino and Russell Martin.

90+3 minThe Baggies are continuing to push forward, but with nowhere near the same purpose as they were a few minutes ago. They know they are a defeated side following Fer's third goal in five games.

90+4 minFULL TIME: WEST BROM 0-2 NORWICH

4.54pmNever have I seen such a one-sided 2-0 defeat! Gary Hooper gave Norwich a half-time lead with his 13th-minute opener, and, after the interval, the Canaries survived a barrage of Baggies attacks to collect three vital points, thanks to some poor Albion finishing and Leroy Fer's late second.

4.58pmThat's it from me on a day where Norwich leapfrog West Brom in the table with victory at The Hawthorns. Be sure to stay with Sports Mole for live coverage of the Premier League's late kickoff at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland entertain Spurs. That's it from me for this evening. Until next time...

A general view of the The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion on March 19, 2011
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