Dean Smith makes winning start as Norwich see off Southampton at Carrow Road
Hanley directed a header to give the hosts a precious victory
Dean Smith started his Norwich tenure with three points after Grant Hanley’s 79th-minute header earned a 2-1 victory at home to Southampton.
The result made it back-to-back triumphs for the Canaries, who moved off the bottom of the Premier League table after Teemu Pukki had cancelled out Che Adams’s early opener for the visitors.
Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was at fault for Hanley’s late effort which saw the Norfolk club celebrate another win, having gone 20 top-flight fixtures without one before their success at Brentford two weeks ago.
The new man in the Carrow Road dugout insisted he would not make “massive changes” in terms of team selection, but his decision to recall Billy Gilmour and Todd Cantwell proved popular with the fans.
It was in sharp contrast to predecessor Daniel Farke, who had not used the talented duo since defeat at home to Watford in September.
Smith had watched his Aston Villa side concede inside three minutes to Southampton two weeks ago in a 1-0 loss that ultimately ended his time with the Midlands club, and history repeated itself.
This time it took four minutes for Saints to open the scoring, with Adams firing home from 12 yards after he impressively worked a yard of space following Adam Armstrong’s flick into the area.
Norwich’s defending was again questionable, but they were able to provide the perfect response, with Pukki equalising three minutes later.
Milot Rashica and Max Aarons combined down the right flank before the full-back crossed in for Pukki to head home at the near post for his fourth goal of the campaign.
After a breathless start, it was Southampton in the ascendency and only some terrific blocks by Canaries centre-backs Ben Gibson and Hanley stopped the visitors going back ahead, with Mohamed Elyounoussi, Kyle Walker-Peters and Armstrong having efforts thwarted during a six-minute spell.
The hosts regained a foothold back in the game following the midway point of the first 45, but Tim Krul came to their rescue two minutes before the break when he clawed away Adams’ effort after Hanley had lost possession by the halfway line.
Smith responded by bringing on Josh Sargent for the ineffective Cantwell and it had the desired impact, with Norwich better after the restart.
Rashica, Sargent and Gibson all had efforts early in the second period and it did not take long for Ralph Hasenhuttl to turn to his bench, with Armando Broja and Theo Walcott summoned.
Norwich remained on the front foot and Pukki tested McCarthy with 14 minutes left, but the Saints goalkeeper parried away the strike at his near post.
It was Gilmour who had helped fashion the chance and his next involvement produced the winner.
The Chelsea loanee curled a corner to the back post, where Hanley directed a header into the ground which bounced over the sprawling McCarthy to put the hosts ahead with 79 minutes played.
Southampton pushed for an equaliser and Walcott headed a late chance wide before referee Martin Atkinson’s full-time whistle was greeted with enormous cheers as the Canaries’ pursuit of survival started to gather pace.
Source: Read Full Article