NAISMITH’S GOT SAINTS ON HOLD
STEVEN NAISMITH’S header late in extra time earned Norwich a replay and while Canaries boss Alex Neil was delighted with the late goal, he was less so with Southampton’s second.
Virgil van Dijk volleyed Southampton in front before Steven Whittaker converted from the spot to draw the game level early in the second-half, following a foul from goalkeeper Harry Lewis.
Maya Yoshida sent a powerful header past Michael McGovern – while Timm Klose opted to come off the pitch injured – to give the visitors the lead for a second time before Naismith snatched a late leveller.
The draw sees Norwich’s upturn in form continue now having gone three games unbeaten in all competitions, but two players stood out in particular for the Canaries Boss.
“I was delighted for Steven Naismith,” he said.
“I thought he worked extremely hard.
“He was diligent in his job, he won battles and he did the ugly side of the game really well, and then he was rewarded with his goal.
“I think the most frustrating thing was their second goal.
“Klose goes down and decides to go off the pitch, which I thought was really naïve because it left us to defend for the next two or three attacks without a centreback, and sod’s law they score a goal from that area.
“He goes off and we have to defend for the next three minutes with him at the side of the pitch against a Premier League team.”
Saints’ 17-yearold goalkeeper Harry Lewis began his debut in promising fashion, holding on to Martin Olsson’s free-kick, while McGovern followed suit at the other end, pushing Dusan Tadic’s effort over the bar.
Van Dijk then opened the scoring before the interval, volleying home from a Tadic cross to put the Saints in front.
But Norwich were let back in the game less than ten minutes into the second half when Lewis took a poor touch, leading him to foul Cameron Jerome and concede a penalty. Whittaker stepped up to confidently send the keeper the wrong way and fire high into the right corner.
Yoshida headed the Premier League side in front for a second time, but Southampton couldn’t hold on. Whittaker sent in a high cross from the right for Naismith to rise and guide past Lewis into the left of the goal with his head.
A late goal means Claude Puel’s outfit has another game to contend with going into their League Cup semi-final, and the Saints boss had consoling words for Lewis after his mistake led to the first equaliser.
He said: “It’s important to mention his two good saves and it’s a pity that he made a mistake. But also it’s important to give him game time because Alex McCarthy is injured.
“It’s a pity because we had control of the game and they’ve scored in the last minute.
“We’ve had a strong month in January and this has made it difficult.
“Now it’s important to see how the next game goes and take game after game. We need to try and get a clean sheet.”
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STAR MAN VIRGIL VAN DIJK Southampton