At half-time you would not have given tuppence for Chris Hughton's chances of remaining manager of Norwich City. It was not so much the Canaries were sliding towards a sixth defeat in eight matches as the manner in which they were doing so that prompted the boos which followed the players down the tunnel.

Put simply, Norwich were being both outplayed and tactically embarrassed. The extent to which Hughton effected the transformation which saw his side come back to win is arguable.

"He just told us to relax on the ball," said Robert Snodgrass, whose beautifully struck, curling free-kick, along with Gary Hooper's fortuitous penalty and Leroy Fer's late drive, saw them take the points that lifted them out of the bottom three and won the manager a reprieve.

Actually, said Hughton, it was also about being a bit more urgent, denying West Ham the time to pass the ball as effectively as they did throughout the opening period, during which they took a deserved lead through Ravel Morrison.

"We tweaked things a little bit, we just felt we needed to get closer to them than we did in the first period. We were more aggressive in our pressing, and once we got the goal I was confident we would go on and win," he said. "The run we've been on has been tough and it's been frustrating. We've played most of the top teams, and hopefully this will be the result that changes the season. Overall our form at home hasn't been too bad but you have to take your chances and we did that."

For West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, what changed the game was the penalty conceded by his goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen 10 minutes into the second half.

The Finn looked to have gathered a loose ball on the floor but saw it squeezed out of his hands by a Norwich foot. The amount of contact he then made with Hooper in desperately attempting to save the situation was slight, but the forward went down and the referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot.

"I've never seen such a transformation in fortunes from us sitting as comfortably as we were," said Allardyce, whose team now sits below Norwich in the table. "Jussi made three mistakes in one and we can't blame anybody but ourselves."

While he refused to single out individuals following the 7-0 debacle at Manchester City last week, Hughton did make three changes to his side.

Ryan Bennett replaced Sébastien Bassong, the fit-again Snodgrass came back into midfield, and Johan Elmander came in to support Hooper up front.

The presence of two strikers in the ranks is something West Ham fans can only dream of as once again Allardyce named a team without an out-and-out forward. For all their lack of a target man, it was the visitors who made all the early running, and Kevin Nolan and Guy Demel went close before Razvan Rat, not for the first time, played in behind exposed Norwich right-back Russell Martin, crossed low.

Nolan might have been offside when his attempt to turn the ball past City goalkeeper John Ruddy was blocked by Michael Turner, but the midfielder reacted smartly to recover possession and turn the ball back across goal for Morrison to sweep home.

Norwich desperately needed a break, and got one courtesy of Jaaskelainen. Even then they almost fell behind again immediately, when James Collins, up for a corner, volleyed a half-clearance just past Ruddy's right-hand post with the goalkeeper well beaten.

Whether they would have recovered from such a setback is doubtful but the momentum of the game had changed. First Noble gave away the ball to Jonny Howson, whose shot from 25 yards thumped against Jaaskelainen's bar.

Moments later, Snodgrass curled a free-kick from almost the same distance over the West Ham wall and into the net. In neither case did Jaaskelainen move.

The game was conclusively up. The remaining chances were all created by Norwich, and it was Fer who made the game safe with a left-foot drive in added time.