EFL

Norwich rally to beat Watford after throwing away two-goal lead

By Sports Desk February 13, 2024

Norwich recovered from losing a two-goal lead to beat Watford 4-2 at Carrow Road and maintain their Championship play-off push.

The Canaries appeared to be in command  after scoring twice in eight first half minutes through Ashley Barnes and Josh Sargent, only for Hornets to hit back as Mileta Rajovic netted just before the break and Yaser Asprilla scored a long-range stunner to equalise midway through the second period.

But the home side kept their nerve and two quick goals from Gabriel Sara and Christian Fassnacht sealed a hard fought win that made it nine home games without defeat, while dealing another blow to Watford’s rapidly receding hopes of finishing in the top six.

Norwich made a bright start and deservedly took the lead after 20 minutes, with a little help from goal-line technology.

When Barnes got his head on Onel Hernandez’s cross to the back post it appeared as though Ben Hamer had made a spectacular one-handed save to keep it out.

But it was all to no avail, with referee Stuart Atwell signalling a goal after being informed that the ball had crossed the line before the keeper’s last-gasp intervention.

Hamer made another save which counted for nothing eight minutes later as the Canaries doubled their advantage.

This time he parried Sargent’s penalty, awarded for a foul on Kenny McLean by Wesley Hoedt, only for the ball to rebound kindly for the American to nod home his seventh goal of an injury-hit campaign.

Norwich looked in complete control at that stage but Watford got themselves back in it through Rajovic after 42 minutes.

Ismael Kone picked out Ken Sema’s run down the inside left channel and what appeared to be an attempt at a shot turned into a perfect cross for Rajovic to poke home from inside the six-yard box.

The Hornets might have got back on level terms a few minutes later after Barnes was caught in possession in a dangerous area but Matheus Martins delayed too long and his shot was blocked.

Watford wasted another good opportunity seven minutes into the second period when Sema dragged his shot wide from a good position after being set up by Martins’ cutback.

Despite being in front Norwich were beginning to look more than a little nervous, with the crowd getting edgy too, and the mood slumped still further as the visitors scored a quite brilliant equaliser after 71 minutes.

The home defence were guilty of failing to close down substitute Asprilla as he made ground towards their goal down the left and the Colombia international took full advantage, beating Angus Gunn from all of 30 yards, with his searing effort going in off the woodwork.

It was the second time this season that Watford had come from 2-0 down to level against Norwich – but this time it was the Canaries who scored the fifth goal of the game.

With 77 minutes on the clock Barnes did well to control the ball and switch it to the overlapping Sara, and the Brazilian burst into the box before beating Hamer with a low shot into the far corner.

Five minutes later Norwich gave themselves some breathing space by making it 4-2, with Jack Stacey’s cross being turned in from close range by substitute Fassnacht via a big deflection off Ryan Porteous.

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