Holt double stuns Swansea
Norwich triumph at Liberty Stadium in battle of the promoted sides
Last Updated: 11/02/12 6:07pm
Grant Holt scored twice as Norwich produced a stirring second-half fight-back to leave Swansea licking their wounds following only their second home defeat of the season at the Liberty Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 at the interval following Danny Graham's 23rd minute opener, Paul Lambert's men turned the battle of the two promoted sides on its head courtesy of Holt's brace and Anthony Pilkington's deflected effort.
The Swans took the lead courtesy of a typically sweet move, with Gylfi Sigurdsson feeding Nathan Dyer, whose quick feet and clever pass allowed Graham to lift his shot way out of John Ruddy's reach and into the top corner.
But Lambert's half-time team-talk clearly had the desired effect as they transformed an interval deficit into a 3-1 advantage in less than 20 minutes, with Holt's header from Elliott Ward's looping overhead cross restoring parity almost immediately.
Pilkington then put the visitors in front in the 51st minute after a great ball from the influential Elliott Bennett, although the winger's shot looked to be covered by the unfortunate Michel Vorm until it took a huge deflection off Neil Taylor.
Bennett had a hand in the third too as a swift Canaries break opened up the home defence and allowed Holt to drill under Vorm, with the Swans goalkeeper later making excellent saves from Kyle Naughton and Wes Hoolahan to prevent a more comprehensive defeat.
Holt made life difficult for his side with a blatant pull of Ashley Williams' shirt, allowing Graham to slot home from the penalty spot in the 87th minute, with the powerful striker perhaps fortunate to avoid a red card following his earlier booking for removing his shirt in celebration.
The equaliser set up a grandstand finish, with Vorm denying Steve Morison before Graham was inches away from his hat-trick and a last-gasp leveller when he diverted Sigurdsson's cross narrowly wide of Ruddy's far post, with the keeper then tipping over Steven Caulker's header.
Sigurdsson had the chance to give Swansea an early lead after confusion between Naughton and Canaries keeper Ruddy, but Russell Martin got there in the nick of time to block the shot.
Norwich settled the better of the two sides, pressing high up the pitch and enjoying some joy with Simeon Jackson running at Angel Rangel down the Swansea right.
But it was Swansea who took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute. Sigurdsson linked well with Dyer and the winger played in Graham for the striker to coolly net his 11th goal of the season.
Holt was heavily involved as Norwich sought a rapid response. The striker, having headed over the bar moments earlier, accused Williams of attempting to elbow him in an aerial challenge before Holt found himself facing the same accusation from Rangel as tempers flared.
Norwich's best chance of the half fell to Andrew Surman, but the midfielder's diving header from Pilkington's brilliant cross was straight at Vorm.
Swansea should have doubled their lead with half-time looming after Dyer and Scott Sinclair had teed Graham up for a tap-in, only for Ward to brilliantly deny the striker.
Having been unfortunate to trail at the interval Norwich turned the game on its head as they grabbed two goals within six minutes of the restart.
Firstly, Holt headed home via a deflection off Williams after Surman had done well to keep Martin's skied attempt at a volley in play on the byline.
And another deflection helped the visitors claim their second as the excellent Bennett teed up Pilkington and his shot struck Taylor, who had put through his own net in Swansea's last home game against Chelsea, and deceived Vorm to put the Canaries in front.
At the other end Caulker struck the post from a Sigurdsson corner in between the two goals, while Sinclair was guilty of a poor headed miss from a Dyer centre.
But Swansea were being overrun and when they conceded possession in midfield, Bennett made the most of a three-on-two situation and fed Holt for the striker to beat Vorm from a tight angle.
Naughton survived penalty appeals for handball after blocking a Dyer shot and a cross from substitute Wayne Routledge and then came within inches of making it 4-1 as his rising angled drive was tipped onto the bar by a full-stretch Vorm.
Swansea's desperation to find a route back into the game was leaving them short at the back and they were almost punished when Jackson dispossessed Leon Britton to play Holt in. The striker unselfishly set up substitute Hoolahan, but Vorm made a spectacular save to tip his effort over the bar.
Having done so much to put his side in control Holt then needlessly gave away a penalty for pulling back Williams, with Graham scoring from the spot to set up a tense final few minutes.Swansea laid siege to the Canaries goal as the game entered five minutes of stoppage-time but Graham could not complete his hat-trick as he skewed wide before Ruddy made a superb save to keep out Caulker's point-blank header and secure the three points.
|Swansea City||Team Statistics||Norwich City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||9|
|6||Shots off Target||6|
|53.8||1st Half Poss.||46.2|
|58.4||2nd Half Poss.||41.6|
Barclays Premier League
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||14|