12 May 2013 18:16
Norwich secured Premier League football for 2013-14 with a 4-0 win over West Brom at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Goals from Robert Snodgrass, Grant Holt and Jonny Howson, as well as a Gareth McAuley own goal, were enough for the home side as they won only their third game in 2013 and ended a run of two straight defeats.
After Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, Norwich are now one point ahead of Villa and six ahead of Wigan, with the latter having two games left to play.
But with those two sides meeting in the final game of the season next Sunday, only one is able to reach the 41-point mark Norwich already have.
Chris Hughton made one change to the Norwich side with John Ruddy making his return to the side after five months out with a thigh injury.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke made five changes to the side that lost against Manchester City 1-0 on Tuesday, with Ben Foster, Steven Ried, Goran Popov, Gareth McAuley and Shane Long returning to the team.
Knowing a win would guarantee Premier League survival, Norwich started the game the far brighter of the sides and forced West Brom to defend well in the opening exchanges.
Robert Snodgrass caused Popov problems down the Norwich right and nearly set up Grant Holt after skipping past his man, but his cross was blocked at the back post.
The Norwich midfield five was finding space in the West Brom half and Anthony Pilkington almost found Holt again but his cross was over hit.
Despite Norwich’s dominance, Romelu Lukaku was a threat to the home side’s defence with his pace and strength but his final ball lacked quality.
Pilkington forced Foster into a save midway through the half having found space in the box, and from the resulting half-cleared corner Snodgrass smashed the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle six yards out, after Foster had saved a Wes Hoolahan effort.
The goal woke up the away side and Lukaku continued to cause problems for the home defence but Sebastien Bassong and Ryan Bennett held firm.
However it was Norwich who had a great chance to double their lead, forcing Foster into another great save with Hoolahan firing from 30 yards out and the West Brom keeper tipping it over the bar.
Lukaku went close in the dying minutes of the first-half but his shot went wide of Ruddy’s far post.
A double substitution at half-time by Clarke saw Chris Brunt and Billy Jones replace Markus Rosenberg and Steven Ried, and it nearly paid off immediately as Lukaku found space but put his chance just wide.
The Belgium international was causing big problems for the home defence, but it was Norwich who almost added a second as Hoolahan fired a volley wide from 20 yards.
It was the home side who continued to press forward and Foster was forced into a number of saves as West Brom hung in the game.
An inspired Snodgrass was almost the architect of the second as he found Holt in the box but his header flew over the bar.
Foster, who had kept West Brom in the game then had a nightmare moment as he scuffed a clearance into the path of Holt who tapped into the empty net from close range.
Norwich added a third quickly after, as West Brom defender McAuley inadvertently headed a Snodgrass free-kick past Foster into his own net.
West Brom tried to get a goal back but England international keeper Ruddy look assured in the Norwich goal as they kept possession with some lovely two-touch passing.
Foster made a great save from Pilkington late on, redeeming himself after his error earlier, but could do nothing as Norwich wrapped it up in the 89th minute when Jonny Howson curled the ball past the keeper after a neat one-two with substitute Luciano Becchio.
Norwich can now head to Manchester City next weekend knowing survival is secure.