Everton may have been mugged by a stoppage-time Holt from the blue but two flashes of inspiration from Kei Kamara made sure that it was the second-half substitute, rather than his captain, who won the plaudits.
Brought on shortly before the hour, the striker on loan from the MLS side Sporting Kansas City wreaked nothing short of havoc. Showcasing spring-heeled superpowers to leap highest on two occasions, he scored one and created another to help secure Norwich's first win in 10 matches.
Kamara's debut against Fulham a fortnight ago proved a box office smash in the cinemas of his native Sierra Leone and his heroic late contribution to this win was such that, if there was an Oscar for best cameo up for grabs this weekend, he would be a worthy late addition to the shortlist. "Kai is a different type of player to what we'd got up front," said the Norwich manager Chris Hughton. "He's probably not up to speed yet regarding his fitness but we knew he was something different when we took him in and I'm really delighted."
The time on the Golden Goal ticket this reporter bought before the game read "10min 48sec" but with the toothless Canaries having scored only once in their last six outings it might as well have read "March" or "April".
This barren spell meant the return from injury of Grant Holt was welcome and Hughton made a bold statement of intent by pairing him with Luciano Becchio. David Moyes had also rung the changes, with the fit-again Seamus Coleman enabling Phil Jagielka to resume his duties at centre-half. Further up the right flank, Steven Naismith was preferred to Kevin Mirallas in place of the injured Victor Anichebe.
Lining up with their playmaking Irish trequartista Wes Hoolahan relegated to less glamorous sounding duties as a left-winger, the home side started brightly, creating chances but without converting. Robert Snodgrass had, perhaps, the pick of the bunch, but a last-ditch lunge from Sylvain Distin meant the winger's diagonal drive went steepling over the crossbar before landing on the roof of the net.
Moments later, a communication breakdown between Sébastien Bassong and Michael Turner meant Howard's opposite number Mark Bunn was called into action, rushing out to prostrate himself at the feet of Nikica Jelavic's and smother the Everton striker's close-range effort. Indeed, it was the goal-shy Croat to whom Norwich's defenders were drawn as Leighton Baines turned provider, leaving the unmarked Leon Osman with the simple task of heading his side into the lead from six yards.
It was a cruel blow for Norwich, who not for the first time had proved their own worst enemy. Earlier, their frustrated fans had seen a Howson surface-to-air screamer from distance blocked by the ample frame of Holt, who later went on to shoot tamely at Howard having been put clean through.
Their tails up courtesy of Osman's goal, Everton continued to turn the screw. A low Steven Pienaar drive across the face of goal went uncleared and unconverted, then Darron Gibson and Marouane Fellaini shot over. But with the contest ebbing away from them, Norwich regained a foothold with the introduction of Kamara for the ineffective Becchio.
No sooner had he taken to the field than the substitute went close, forcing Howard into a smart save with an acrobatic scissors‑kick. Minutes later, his weak header under pressure trickled inches wide, amid vociferous home protests that their man was being held.
With six minutes to go Kamara could have no such complaints, having been abandoned by Fellaini at a corner. The careless Belgian allowed his man to rise unmarked and thump a meaty downwards header past Howard from six yards. From then on it was all Norwich, who were rewarded for laying siege to the Everton goal with a winner deep in stoppage time. Once again Kamara rose to knock down a cross from the left that Holt pounced to stab home from all of one yard.
The Canaries can feel a little more secure on their Premier League perch, while Everton's faint hopes of securing a top-four finish have surely come irreversibly unstuck.