Norwich throw it away as Payet-inspired Hammers earn draw

Date published: Saturday 13th February 2016 4:54

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Norwich contrived to chuck away a 2-0 lead with 16 minutes left as they were left to rue a potentially-costly 2-2 draw with West Ham at Carrow Road.

The Canaries, who had lost six straight games going into Saturday’s match, took the lead in the 54th-minute when Robbie Brady won the ball in midfield, held off Michail Antonio and fired an effort in-off the crossbar from distance.

And they doubled their lead after 65 minutes when Steven Naismith’s shot deflected into Hoolahan’s path, and he swept it home right-footed.

Hammers playmaker Dimitri Payet celebrated signing a new deal at Upton Park by reducing the deficit in the 74th minute and it was 2-2 just two minutes later when Mark Noble firing in from 18 yards; Payet this time providing the assist with a cut-back for the Hammers skipper.

It was a bitter blow for Norwich, who remain in the bottom three on the back of the draw.

City looked determined to right the wrongs of the previous few games straight from kick-off and almost took the lead in the opening minute, Russell Martin driving just over the crossbar from 20 yards.

Brady then curled a free-kick inches too high, Naismith scuffed a good chance wide and Hoolahan’s effort from a quickly-taken corner was only just off target.

West Ham, perhaps not so fresh from their 120-minute FA Cup marathon against Liverpool in midweek, carved out only the occasional chance in the first half although John Ruddy, recalled in the Norwich goal in preference to Declan Rudd, did well to tip over a fierce, angled drive from Enner Valencia.

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But in the 54th minute Norwich took a deserved lead when Brady robbed Michail Antonio midway inside the Hammers half, charged forward unchallenged and thumped an unstoppable shot past Adrian and into the top corner.

It was the summer signing from Hull’s second goal for the Canaries – his first also came against West Ham in the 2-2 draw at Upton Park in September.

Ten minutes later Norwich doubled their lead when Hoolahan fed Naismith on the 18-yard line and continued his run into the area.

As the Scot’s shot cannoned between the legs of James Collins it fell perfectly at the feet of Hoolahan to sweep the ball past Adrian.

West Ham hit back when sub Victor Moses burst into the penalty area and held off two challenges before firing towards goal.

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Ruddy got down well to palm out the effort but it dropped straight to Payet, who smashed it into the roof of the net.

Suddenly the Hammers found their second wind and within three minutes they were level, with Payet this time turning provider.

The Frenchman collected the ball on the by-line and picked out Noble on the edge of the area, the midfielder blasting a first-time shot past Ruddy.

Both sides had chances to win it, with Moses driving over for the visitors and Nathan Redmond inches from a stoppage-time winner for City.

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