Newcastle United came to Carrow Road with hopes to close the gap on Norwich City in the race for safety.
However, the hosts had other plans as Martin Olsson's strike late into stoppage time brought the Canaries further away from the relegation zone with the game ending 3-2. Rafa Benitez has yet to win a match with the Magpies, and looking at the strength of their remaining schedule, there is no doubt that this was a must win match that slipped from their hands.
The match started off well for Newcastle as they possessed the ball quite nicely. However, the inability to capitalise on their chances plagued the side once more. Despite seeing less of the ball, Norwich were by far the more dangerous side as Steven Naismith and Dieumerci Mbokani caused all kinds of trouble for the Newcastle defense.
Norwich thought they had an early breakthrough as Jonny Howson’s cross in the 17th minute found Mbokani who slotted home. Unfortunately for the Canaries, the flag was up on the near side, claiming the Norwich striker began his run just a bit too early.
A close half ended with Norwich taking the lead off a Timm Klose header. A free kick in stoppage gave the hosts the chance they needed as Robbie Brady’s delivery just glanced off the center back and past a frozen Karl Darlow. There was little the goalkeeper to do as his teammates let him down on the marking.
Exciting second half sees Canaries on top
Newcastle would not lie down in the second half as a pair of attacking substitution brought new life into the side. Shortly after entering the action, Aleksandar Mitrovic would bring Newcastle level with a looping header over John Ruddy. Andros Townsend sent in a peach of a cross that Mitrovic did well to capitalise on, finding the Norwich goalkeeper a little too far off his line.
The celebrations would be cut short in the end as the hosts came roaring back to take the lead once more. Howson provided the ball to Mbokani on the left flank, and the striker did well to cut inside and fire a rocket of a shot past Darlow and into the side netting.
The hosts from then on looked keen to put the match away and secure the points, introducing both Wes Hoolahan and Cameron Jerome into the mix. Instead, Gary O’Neil would gift the visitors a lifeline by handling the ball in the box for a Newcastle penalty. John Ruddy would dive the right way, but Mitrovic’s penalty was placed just right, beating the Norwich goalkeeper to bring Newcastle level once more.
Papiss Cisse nearly stole the match late on, but he was unable to get enough power on his header as John Ruddy made a crucial diving save to deny the Magpies.
After a spell of solid defending, Norwich were able to advance up the field and eventually steal the points at the death. A poor clearance led to Martin Olsson receiving the ball in space. With little time to react, he powered a shot through traffic to find the far side of the net. Karl Darlow had minimal vision of the ball as it flew past him, but nobody could have saved that shot as it was as perfect as it could be.
The victory brings Norwich city four points clear of the relegation zone and buries Newcastle six points closer to the drop. The time is running out for the Magpies and there is only so much new manager Rafa Benitez can do to help when his side hardly looks up to the challenge. Its been a long time since Newcastle have shown any real determination in their approach to survive. It’s too early to start preparations for the Championship, but a serious change in the side is necessary if Newcastle have any desire to remain in the league.