Canaries bow out with whimper
By Patrick Goss. Last Updated: 15/05/05 4:50pm
Their fate was in their own hands, but Norwich's dreadful away record continued as they bowed out of The Premiership with a 6-0 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Although they will look to first half decisions that went against them, Nigel Worthington's side simply could not muster the required last ditch effort that would have kept them in the top-flight.
A brace for Brian McBride and goals from Papa Bouba Diop, Zat Knight, Steed Malbranque and Andy Cole left Norwich contemplating games against Luton Town and Hull City rather than Manchester United and Chelsea next season.
Norwich had stared brightly, but after crucial decisions went against them, conceded twice and should have gone even further behind at the break.
You would have been forgiven for feeling Fulham were just making up the numbers in the opening spell -with David Bentley's free-kick drawing a save from Edwin van der Sar and Huckerby just not getting a shot away quickly enough after the Dutch keeper had acrobatically punched away a dangerous cross.
But with Brian McBride and Tomas Radzinski looking lively, Fulham began to show their worth and took the lead against the run of play with a fine move.
Steed Malbranque set Volz free down the right who in turn picked out Radzinski. The Canadian cut inside before laying the perfect pass for McBride who slotted home first time to the delight of the home fans.
Norwich were already growing disgruntled with referee Steve Dunn, after Dean Ashton had a goal chalked off for minor contact, when they were denied two good shouts for a penalty.
First, Knight's dalliance invited Leon McKenzie to compete for the ball in Fulham's box - and the Norwich man did appear to have been bundled to the ground.
If that was a decent shout, Darren Huckerby will be entitled to think that he should have had a stick on penalty soon after, cantering onto Dean Ashton's clever lay off but halted by a stamp to his heel from the hard-working Volz.
To compound The Canaries' misery Fulham went further in front when Luis Boa Morte went down easily, and Bouba Diop smashed home a wonderful free-kick to rock Norwich to their very foundations.
As belief left them, the visitors were both fortunate, and thankful to keeper Robert Green, that they did not find themselves further behind.
Green produced two low saves to deny Radzinski and, more impressively, Malbranque - then watched gratefully when Boa Morte lashed narrowly wide after his own mis-control fell kindly for him.
Another save from Green followed, but it paled in comparison to a scintillating reaction stop when McBride's close range sliding effort was tipped spectacularly onto the underside of the bar.
There was no let up as the second half started, Lee Clark drew another stop from Green and Huckerby showed pace, but not poise, when he raced through but could not get a shot away before the Fulham defence recovered.
Jason Shackell's tackle denied Radzinski after he was played in by Malbranque, and the young defender was on hand again to block from the resultant corner.
But their luck could not hold, and when Mattias Jonson and Craig Fleming got in each others way to clear a corner, Knight was on hand to smash home gleefully and with no little quality.
With their relegation rivals battling to keep themselves afloat, Norwich's players looked to have realised the game was up - and as they half heartedly pushed for a consolation it was Malbranque that added to the scoreline.
Boa Morte did superbly - playing a sweet one two before pausing and picking out a fine cut-back for Malbranque to sidefoot powerfully home.
Jonson was fortunate not to put through his own net and Ashton has another ruled out, rightly this time - but the multitude of radios in the stands were talking of Crystal Palace and West Brom's survival chances and not of The Canaries.
There was still time for two more goals as McBride grabbed his second of the match, slotting home with aplomb as Fulham played some joyous passing football amidst the shattered dreams of their visitors.
Cole, a late substitute, flicked home number six to cap a nightmare day for Norwich, and ensured that, despite their praiseworthy support, they were relegated with a whimper and not a roar.
Fulham v Norwich player ratings
|Fulham||Team Name||Norwich City|
|10||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||0|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||2|
|11||Total Fouls Conceded||12|
|51 %||Possession||49 %|
Barclays Premier League
Sun 15th May
Birmingham2 - 1Arsenal
Bolton3 - 2Everton
Charlton2 - 2C Palace
Tottenham0 - 0Blackburn
West Brom2 - 0Portsmouth
Man City1 - 1Middlesbro'
Liverpool2 - 1A Villa
Southampton1 - 2Man Utd
Newcastle1 - 1Chelsea
Fulham6 - 0Norwich
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||34||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|