Alex Tettey sealed a 1-0 win for Norwich City over 10-man Southampton at Carrow Road to move the hosts six points clear of the Premier League drop zone.
Both sides probed brightly during the first half, with Norwich striker Dieumerci Mbokani and his Southampton counterpart Shane Long both passing up opportunities to break the deadlock.
This gave way to more attritional fare after the break but the game turned when Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama was sent off for the second time this season for two bookable offences.
Ronald Koeman’s team were forced to operate with reduced numbers from the 73rd minute and the Dutchman – who dropped star forward Sadio Mane to the bench for missing a team meeting – watched them fall behind three minutes later.
Norway midfielder Tettey, whose first goal of the campaign came in Norwich’s shock 2-0 win at Manchester United sidefooted coolly in the top corner in stark contrast to Wanyama’s hot-headedness.
Norwich have now won three of their past four matches to build up a healthy cushion between themselves and the bottom three, while Southampton are only a point above their opponents – last week’s 4-0 romp against leaders Arsenal standing as their only win in eight attempts.
James Ward-Prowse benefitted from Mane’s shoddy timekeeping to take a place in Koeman’s XI, while Jordy Clasie replaced the suspended Oriol Romeu in midfield and Gary O’Neil was preferred to Graham Dorrans in the hosts’ only change.
Long headed over under pressure from Norwich goalkeeper Declan Rudd on the end of Dusan Tadic’s deflected left-wing cross, but Alex Neil’s team should have led in the 11th minute – Jonathan Howson prodding wide after visiting captain Jose Fonte misjudged a clearance.
Mbokani scrambled wide from close range after half an hour as a challenge from Cuco Martina complicated matters.
Southampton right-back Martina then swept a wonderful cross behind the Norwich defence, only for a combination of Ryan Bennett and Rudd to deny Long – the Irishman drawing another save from the resulting corner.
Norwich displayed further set-piece frailties after Rudd turned Clasie’s 42nd minute drive behind but Virgil van Dijk failed to make headed contact with the goal gaping.
A frantic, committed opening to the second period from both sides brought neither fluent football nor clear chances and Southampton’s intricate game was put aside as Tadic sliced high and wide on the end of a Marteen Stekelenburg punt.
Southampton’s ambitions of a victory push were checked as Wanyama foolishly collected his second yellow card by clattering through Norwich substitute Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe.
Norwich smelled blood and, after a brave block from Van Dijk thwarted Wes Hoolahan, Tettey was set up by Odjidja-Ofoe to send an unerring shot beyond Stekelenburg.
Koeman threw on Mane in the 80th minute but, perhaps fittingly, he arrived too late to make an impact.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!