Canaries show some fight at last but are still down and out
IT WAS marvellous, defiant, knockabout stuff. But in the end, not enough for Norwich.
Events 250 miles away at the Stadium of Light doomed Alex Neil’s side to a return to the Championship from which they had emerged a year ago.
They went down fighting, as Nathan Redmond produced the performance of his season.
He scored one goal and set up three as Norwich came back from Troy Deeney’s early goal to take control through Redmond, two goals from Dieumerci Mbokani and an own-goal from Craig Cathcart.
Odion Ighalo notched Watford’s second but the news had long since seeped through from Wearside. The damage had been done long before and this was only Norwich’s third win in 17 and only Redmond’s sixth goal of a campaign that ended in heartbreak.
Yet they could not have started worse had they tried. Perhaps it was a recent record of having lost their last four games and not scoring in that time.
Deeney saw his early strike saved by John Ruddy but then the Watford striker nodded the ball down to Ighalo.
Ruddy dived at his feet to save but could not hold the ball, which ran loose to present Deeney with a tap-in. Disaster.
It finally sparked Norwich – and especially Redmond – into life.
Three minutes later the England Under-21 striker played a neat one-two with Stephen Naismith and shot low from an angle and keeper Heurelho Gomes let the ball through his legs into the net.
Neil’s side were galvanised. Three minutes later Redmond cut in from the right and when his low shot hit a post, Mbokani tapped in. Watford were in shreds. It should have been three as Redmond exchanged passes with Wes Hoolahan and burst through. Again his shot came back off the post and Martin Olsson fired in a drive that Gomes brilliantly tipped round the post.
No matter. The third came when Redmond, by now running the match, found Hoolahan out on the right, and when he angled his cross in, Cathcart sliced the ball into his own net.
Pandemonium – until the news came through minutes later that Sunderland had scored twice. There was still time for Naismith to force another good save from Gomes. Just five minutes after the break, Deeney crossed for Ighalo to stab in.
But Mbokani quickly restored Norwich’s two goal lead, as the irrepressible Redmond put him through, and the Congo striker stabbed home.
A fighting finish but ultimately far too late.