Norwich City and Everton shared the points at Carrow Road on Saturday as Wes Hoolahan cancelled out in-form Romelu Lukaku’s opener in a 1-1 draw.
Roberto Martinez’s men were held by AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace in their last two Premier League outings and again will perhaps feel they should have taken maximum points.
Welcoming Leighton Baines into the starting XI, the visitors dominated the opening period, with Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu in particular causing Norwich problems.
Deulofeu provided the assist as Lukaku became the first Everton player to score in six consecutive Premier League games, but Martinez’s side – who saw John Stones shake off a knock in the warm-up to play the full 90 minutes – failed to make the most of their superiority.
Hoolahan marked his return from a knee injury with the equaliser two minutes into the second half as Norwich claimed a point following one of their most disappointing performances of the season in the defeat to Watford last time out.
Martinez’s men – who should have been out of sight by half-time – are unbeaten in eight in all competitions, while Norwich picked up just their second point in four games.
Alex Neil called for a reaction from his players after losing 2-0 at Vicarage Road – a performance he declared “not acceptable” – and saw his side begin well, Nathan Redmond and Hoolahan bright early on.
Lukaku sent the first clear-cut chance of the game wide of Declan Rudd’s left-hand post 11 minutes in.
Everton grew stronger and took the lead when Lukaku benefitted from Deulofeu’s pinpoint cross at the far post to score the 10th goal in his last 10 Premier League appearances.
Rudd was required to save one-on-one from Arouna Kone before Norwich rallied prior to the half-hour, albeit without threatening the hosts’ goal.
Lukaku spurned a glorious opportunity when he turned Tom Cleverley’s deflected cross over the crossbar from close range. Baines’ effort rattled the post following more impressive work in the build-up from Deulofeu.
Kone almost doubled Everton’s lead before half-time when he pounced on a loose Russell Martin backpass, Lukaku then shooting wide on the stroke of half-time.
Despite spending much of the first half on the backfoot, Norwich levelled through Hoolahan after the restart. Ross Barkley kept out half-time substitute Ryan Bennett’s header, only for Hoolahan to prod the ball over the line.
The equaliser buoyed Neil’s men as Norwich applied pressure – Hoolahan evading a clutch of Everton defenders before Robbie Brady’s effort was deflected over.
Misplaced places became commonplace for a nervy Everton side around the hour mark as the game remained finely poised going into the final stages.
Baines produced a teasing ball across the six-yard box that evaded his team-mates, while Cameron Jerome turned Hoolahan’s backheel over when he should have hit the target as neither side could find a winner in an entertaining encounter.
Key Opta stats:
– Six of the last eight meetings between Norwich and Everton in all competitions have ended as draws.
– Everton have won only one of their eight Premier League visits to Carrow Road (W1 D5 L2).
– Gerard Deulofeu has assisted six goals for Romelu Lukaku this season in the Premier League – no player has assisted as many goals for a single player in the PL this season.
– Wes Hoolahan has been involved in more goals in the Premier League this season (seven – two goals, five assists) than any other Norwich City player.