Southampton 1-1 Norwich: Match Report
Southampton 1-1 Norwich: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Ref justice for Saints
Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga proved the villain as Norwich secured a 1-1 draw from a match in which Mark Clattenburg's return to frontline refereeing was the main talking point.
The 20-year-old Argentinian has been found wanting on several occasions this season and was at fault for Robert Snodgrass' leveller, with the midfielder's free-kick somehow beating him at the near post.
However, it was Clattenburg rather than Gazzaniga that was top of the agenda as he returned to action a month after Chelsea alleged he racially abused John Obi Mikel against Manchester United.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins welcomed back the referee in his programme notes, although the goodwill soon faded as the home support became increasingly irritated by his decisions.
The St Mary's faithful will, though, have been thankful to Clattenburg for the opener as a free-kick into the box ricocheted off Rickie Lambert's arm before he prodded home.
Norwich pulled level on the stroke of half-time as Snodgrass' free-kick squirmed past Gazzaniga, but neither side could eke out a winner after in a tense second half.
Coming into the game Clattenburg was under no illusions to the level of interest in his return, with cameras following him into the dressing room and out for the warm-up.
He received a round of applause when he made his way back inside but attention soon returned to the matter in hand, with Snodgrass stinging the palms of Gazzaniga inside four minutes.
It was Southampton that started the brighter, though, and Mark Bunn, deputising for the injured John Ruddy, did well to punch clear a sixth-minute corner.
A trademark Lambert knockback was cleared soon after by Ryan Bennett, who then had to be alert to block a fierce Jason Puncheon drive.
Saints' spell in the ascendancy was followed by a similar one for Norwich, with Anthony Pilkington getting a lot of joy down the left flank.
The visitors may have peppered the box with a flurry of crosses but Southampton's backline held firm, with Luke Shaw doing particularly well.
The hosts' captain Adam Lallana came close with an exquisite volley when they returned to the attack, although their fans were becoming audibly frustrated with some of Clattenburg's decisions.
The referee received ironic cheers from the St Mary's faithful when he did award Saints a free-kick in the 32nd minute after Snodgrass pulled back Shaw.
It was a decision that led to the opening goal as Lallana sent the ball, which bounced off Lambert's arm onto Grant Holt before falling kindly for him to poke home.
Gaston Ramirez saw a left-footed free-kick whip just wide of the far post nine minutes later, before Shaw did well to stop Holt getting a header in on goal moments later.
However, Norwich managed to find a leveller before the break after Nathaniel Clyne took down Snodgrass on the edge of the 18-yard box.
The right-back was booked for the challenge and the Canaries midfielder took the set piece, firing a low strike that somehow beat Gazzaniga at his near post.
It was poor from the Argentinian goalkeeper and Saints looked to make amends early in the second half, with a Clyne cross certain to have been converted had it not been for Bennett's late block.
Fonte shanked a volley shortly afterwards, before a threatening Snodgrass cross was lashed clear by Southampton's defence.
Clyne tracked back well to stop Pilkington turning in a Holt through ball as Norwich continued to threaten, with Shaw denying Snodgrass as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Gazzaniga did excellently to deny a Holt header from the resulting corner, before a quick turn and shot from Puncheon forced Bunn into a smart save at the other end.
Norwich were getting more and more players behind the ball as the second half wore on, frustrating Southampton as they pressed for a winner.
Lambert flashed a shot over after Snodgrass threatened, before Shaw limped off to be replaced by Ben Reeves.
Fonte blocked a fierce drive late on but neither side could find a winner, despite four minutes of stoppage time.
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