Jonny Howson scored with 20 minutes to go to give Norwich City a crucial 1-0 victory over Swansea City in the Premier League.
Alex Neil’s men went into Saturday’s game at Carrow Road having lost four consecutive top-flight games, but ended that streak with a gutsy home win in a match of few clear chances.
Howson’s decisive close-range header came moments after Gylfi Sigurdsson had hit the crossbar at the other end midway through the second half.
The victory moves Norwich to within one point of out-of-form Swansea, who failed to register a shot on target and have now won only once in their last eight Premier League matches as the pressure grows on manager Garry Monk.
Neil made three changes to his team, with Andre Wisdom, Wes Hoolahan and Gary O’Neil coming in to replace Russell Martin, Youssouf Mulumbu and Matt Jarvis, while Swansea were unchanged.
Norwich created the best chance of the early stages when Cameron Jerome escaped his marker but failed to keep his header down from six yards out after Robbie Brady’s free kick from the left.
Howson warmed the hands of Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with a stinging shot from distance moments later, but the first half would produce barely any further goalmouth action.
Swansea were dominating possession without threatening in attack, but they did have a penalty claim turned down by referee Mark Clattenburg shortly before half-time after Bafetimbi Gomis felt he had been tugged down in the box by Sebastien Bassong.
Norwich made a fast start to the second period and Fabkianski had to get down sharply to save Brady’s well directed header after Howson had made ground down the right to set up the opportunity.
A patient passing move saw the visitors create a good opening midway through the second half. Substitute Wayne Routledge’s low cross found Sigurdsson, whose lofted effort clipped the top of the crossbar.
That missed chance sparked the hosts into life and Gary O’Neil shot just wide prior to Brady forcing Fabianski to tip a powerful effort wide.
From the resulting corner, Dieumerci Mbokani – who had only just come off the bench – headed back across the face of goal, allowing Howson to nod home from close range.
Wes Hoolahan had an effort pushed over as Norwich pushed for a second, while Routledge was just off-target for Swansea as Neil’s men held on for their first clean sheet of the season in the league and a much-needed victory.
Key Opta stats:
– Howson’s goal was his first in his last 31 Premier League games, with his last coming back in October 2013 against Arsenal.
– Swansea have won just one of their last 16 away trips to Carrow Road in all competitions (W1 D3 L12).
– Mbokani has been involved in three of the Canaries’ last five Premier League goals (scored two, one assist).
– Swansea are now without a clean sheet in six Premier League games, their worst run since August 2014 (seven).