West Ham United survived a late scare to against Norwich to pick up a well-deserved three points with a 2-1 win at Upton Park on Tuesday.
Hosts West Ham got off to a flying start, winning a penalty which was expertly dispatched in the opening three minutes of the match by captain Mark Noble.
The midfielder had a hand in the second goal, as his pass was diverted into the path of Joey O’Brien, who caressed the ball into the bottom corner, with Russell Martin adding a late consolation strike for the visitors.
Sam Allardyce had made three changes to his side, with the suspended duo of James Collins and Kevin Nolan replaced by Guy Demel and Ricardo Vaz Te respectively.
Long-term absentee Jack Collison returned to the side to partner Mark Noble in midfield.
With Grant Holt and Steve Morison sidelined, Norwich manager Chris Hughton was forced to field 19-year-old Tottenham loanee Harry Kane up front.
Jonny Howson replaced the suspended Bradley Johnson and Ryan Bennett deputised for the injured Javier Garrido.
West Ham made the perfect start to the match, with referee Mark Clattenburg pointing to the penalty spot after Bennett had tugged on the shirt of Winston Reid.
The decision looked a soft one, the kind of penalty area shenanigans that usually go unpunished, and was greeted by cheers of happy disbelief from the home crowd. Noble, wearing the captain’s armband in place of Nolan, stepped up to take the spot-kick, sending Mark Bunn the wrong way.
Norwich struggled to mount a response until Robert Snodgrass’ 25-yard free-kick rattled the foot of the post, with Jussi Jaaskelainen rooted to the spot.
Anthony Pilkington drove the ball inches wide of the post from the resulting corner.
Snodgrass’ effort seemed to wake West Ham from the complacency brought on by their early lead.
Demel charged out of defence and crossed for Collison, who forced a brilliant save from Bunn.
But it was only a brief respite for Norwich, as left-back O’Brien embarked on a run of his own, surging into the box before offloading to Noble.
The skipper’s pull-back deflected back into the path of the Irishman, who calmly slotted the ball past Bunn at his near post.
West Ham should have extended their lead further just before the break when Demel found Carlton Cole unmarked one-yard out from goal, but the forward somehow managed to blast the ball over the bar.
Norwich made a better start the second half, with Wes Hoolahan more involved.
His through-ball put Kane in on goal, who buckled under the challenge of James Tomkins inside the box, but the visiting side’s pleas for a penalty were ignored by Clattenburg.
West Ham spurned more chances to extend their lead through Vaz Te, on the end of some harsh criticism by his manager after an astonishing miss against Reading, who headed against the post.
Martin managed a late consolation for Norwich, although it arrived too late to impact proceedings.
After good work down the right flank from substitute Elliot Bennett, Martin volleyed the ball into the back of the net – his third goal in as many days.
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