Wigan 1 Norwich 1:

14 August 2011 02:29

There was no need for Norwich City owner Delia Smith to grab a microphone and fire up the lads.

Her beloved club made a spirited return to the Premier League after a six-year absence and nobody could begrudge them a point gained by Wes Hoolahan's opportunistic equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

On the spot: Ben Watson opens the scoring for Wigan

At the final whistle, 4,000 fans fromNorfolk celebrated as if they had won the title and Delia jumped up in delight to applaud her team.

Certainly, no repeat necessary of her'Let's be 'aving you' speech that has gone down in football folklore Norwich boss Paul Lambert wanted to give credit to those Norwich fans who two years ago saw their team beaten 7-1 by Colchester in League One.

'It is extraordinary what the fans bring to this club,' said Lambert. 'They travel a hell of a distance to go to any away game and they are always brilliant.

'I've got to be delighted with the performance. The Premier League is new to us and we handled everything. We were in League One a couple of years ago. The magnitude of what we have achieved is incredible.'

Wigan, beaten 4-0 by newly-promoted Blackpool on the opening day of last season, were never going to allow that to happen again.

They went ahead after Ritchie de Laet tangled with Franco di Santo in the area and Ben Watson rifled home the resultant penalty.

Hoolahanequalised when Wigan keeper Ali al-Habsi made an uncharacteristic mistake and even though Wigan later hit a post through Conor Sammon, thevisitors deserved their point.

'It was one of those sloppy days,' admitted Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.

'Onthe positive side, 12 months ago we would have lost that game. Without playing our best, we were the team who finished stronger.'

Leveller: Wes Hoolahan scores for Norwich at the DW Stadium

Martinez, who turned down Aston Villa, is now looking for chairman Dave Whelan to back him with new signings to replace the departed Charles N'Zogbia and Tom Cleverley.

Onebid for West Bromwich striker Peter Odemwingie has been turned down butMartinez warned: 'We are two bodies light and we are working very hard to address it.'

Eight of Norwich's starting XI had not played in the Premier League before butthey showed few signs of nerves as David Fox picked up a booking inside30 seconds and ?2.8million debutant Steve Morison tangled with Adrian Lopez, the Norwich striker suffering a cut eye and the Wigan defender a bandaged head.

Delight: Wes Hoolahan celebrates after scoring an equaliser for Norwich

Looking on was Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala, who has agreed a ?800,000 move to Norwich.

Proud Delia was all smiles as she took her seat.

Shesaw Norwich match their opponents until De Laet, on loan from Manchester United, was robbed by Di Santo on the halfway line and then brought the Argentine down as he chased back.

No, it's my ball: Wigan's James McCarthy battles with Grant Holt

A penalty was harsh - contact was negligible and may not even have been in the area - but Watson thumped home the spot-kick anyway.

Norwich responded with the spirit that had gained them two successive promotions.

Battle: Wigan's Victor Moses battles with Russell Martin

Shortly after De Laet was a toenail away from scoring, their enterprise was rewarded. Morison, known for hisaerial threat, showed great skill to beat Maynor Figueroa and send in across that Al-Habsi allowed to squirm from his grasp into the path of Hoolahan.

The Norwich player's close-range finish sent the away end into a frenzy.

Fan-tastic: Norwich fans are glad to be back in the big time

The second half was the Victor Moses show. He beat three players in one mazy run before De Laet made a last-ditch tackle.

Then the youngster beat five men and looked set to score until Zak Whitbread blocked him, jarring his knee in the process.

Satisfactory: Norwich boss Paul Lambert and players acknowledge fans after the game

Wigan thought they had won it late on when substitute Sammon beat John Ruddy with the outside of his boot, only to hit a post. But when the teams see how QPR fared on the opening day, they will both be content with a point apiece.

Fancy seeing you here: Wigan owner Dave Whelan chats with Delia Smith

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Source: Daily_Mail

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