Norwich City v Tottenham Hotspur – as it happened

Gareth Bale's brace crowned a sparkling Spurs display as the visitors closed the gap on the top two

Preview from James Callow:

A mark of Tottenham Hotspur's progress is that they could feel aggrieved only to draw with Chelsea last week, but they may soon be blunted by injuries. Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon have been ruled out while Jermain Defoe, Younès Kaboul and Ledley King are suffering. The latter pair's fitness could be key against the Norwich striker Grant Holt, whose brand of grazing menace demands to be taken seriously. With fixtures against Fulham, QPR and West Bromwich Albion coming up this could be a key period for Paul Lambert's side.

Norwich: Ruddy, De Laet, Martin, Whitbread, Drury, Fox, Crofts, Surman, Hoolahan, Morison, Holt.
Subs: Rudd, Johnson, Jackson, Pilkington, Bennett, Barnett, Wilbraham.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto,
Modric, Sandro, Parker, Bale, Van der Vaart, Adebayor.
Subs: Gomes, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore, Pienaar.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

7:16pm: "I have got a question concerning Grant Holt," announces Michael Schlagenhaufen. "Why is it that he has been coming on that often as a sub throughout the season so far? He seems to be Norwichs most powerful striker." The answer is that he is not quite as mobile as Steve Morison, who has also had a fine season, and Paul Lambert seems to believe that starting with both would usually be a trifle cavalier. He's deploying them both tonight and they will give a proper test to the Kaboul-Gallas partnership, which has not been used terribly often owing to Ledly King's sustained run in the side.

7:20pm: This is surely a match that Spurs could do with winning if they are to prevent the title race from becoming a two-horse race. It probably is already but the fact that Spurs have two games in hand means the 10-point gap isn't completely insurmountable.

1 min: Amind a tumultuous din, Norwich get the game going.

1 min: After 26 seconds Morison traps a long ball and fires a respectable half-volley goalward. Easy pickings for Friedel, however.

2 min: Thrilling start to what many have predicted to be a goalfest: it's open and very, very fast.

4 min: A weak right-footed shot by Van der Vaart brings a tame end to a roaring break by Spurs, featuring a run down the right by Assou-Ekotto and a dinky knock-down by Bale, who's getting very far forward inthese early moments.

6 min: Fine intricacy bu Spurs, culminating with a lovely roll-back from Adebayor into the path of a Bale, who curls a decent effort at goal from the edge of the area. Ruddy holds.

8 min: Spurs have assumed complete control here. Well, at least until they get to the Norwich box, around which the home players are busily erecting sandbags.

10 min: Spurs force their third corner in about a minute and their fifth of the match so far. Modric delivers straight to Ruddy. But if the match continues in this vein it is impossible to see Norwich holding out for much longer.

12 min: Diligent defending by Drury to stop Walker from getting in a cross after a searing run down the right. But the ball hasn't been out of Norwich territory for about eight minutes.

15 min: Norwich are starting to find their feet ... and their heads, particularly that of Morison and Holt, at which the home team are aiming many diagonal crosses. Although their one strike of note in their recent flurry of offensive activity was a long-range ping by Hoolahan that stung that hands of Friedel.

18 min: Just before 2011 shuffles away into history, Kyle Walker steals the worst shot of the year award with a hilarious 20-yard shank into the Norfolk wilderness.

22 min: Superb clearing header by Martin to divert a Walker cross to relative safety. But Bale brings it back before being tripped at the edge of the area by De Laet. The freekick is rolled to Kaboul, who opens fire from an absurd angle and produces a shot that may steal Walker's recently-earned worst shot of the year gong. "In 15 minutes there's already been more football than in that whateveritwas last night," summarises Fraser Thomas.

25 min: A shortage of clear shots but this contest is more absorbing than even the best baby nappy and Norwich are now giving almost as good as they're getting.

27 min: Bale has as bang from just outside the area. It deflects off a defender and out for another Tottenham corner ... yet again it goes into Ruddy's arms.

31 min: Bale robs the ball off a dawdling Martin and sprints into the box ... before producing a woeful finish, tonking the ball high over the bar with only the keeper to beat. "Speaking of 2011 shuffling away into history, any year-end thoughts (or laments)?" blurst Paul Taylor. "Me, I'm deeper in debt and definitely feeling a year older, although my family all have bloomed. I also realize that there are many important questions yet unanswered. For example, when you're home alone and go the bathroom, should you close the door? Why do men spit into urinals? It's been a difficult year, pondering such. Can you help with these mysteries, so I won't face them again in 2012?" I too am feeling a year older but not, alas, a year wiser. As to toilet etiquette when on your tod, I would suggest that the answer depends on what you plan to do in there and how soon you are expecting people to return. As a general rule of thumb, however, I would suggest leaving the door open for aeration purposes. As for spitting in the urinal, I guess it's just an extension of the evacuation process for which toilets are provided.

32 min: Van der Vaart eliminates Martin with a lovely long pass over the top. Adebayor tries to take it down and dodge the out-rushing keeper in one go ... but his touch is too cumbersome and out goes the ball.

34 min: Spurs carve Norwich apart with a flowing move but, after Bale creates shooting space for himself with a lovely feint and turn, Ruddy produces an excellent save!

37 min: Van der Vaart booms a low shot wide from 20 yards.

40 min: It's almost as if Spurs are enjoying themselves too much here. Shades of the Arsenal of old as they revel in their own trickery but fail at the final reckoning ... although, it must be said, that has partially been due to some defiant defending by the Norwich.

42 min: Another Spurs corner, another catch for Ruddy. It's about time they tried something different from those set-pieces.

44 min: Hoolahan, perhaps in a bid to endear himself to Giovani Trapattoni and earn a call-up for Euro 2012, sprints after Parker and chops him down. Spurs drift the ensuing freekick into the box and Morison trips Gallas as the Frenchman sought to get his head on the ball. The ref fails to notice and dimisses the appeals for a penalty.

45+1 min: After a bout of Norwich possession, Spurs retrieve the ball and rollick forward. Parker plays in Adebayor, who first touch is poor and second slightly desperate. Result? A shot into the stands from the edge of the area.

Half-time: The new Arsenal continue to be frustrated by resilient defending and their own clumsiness in front goal, which detracts from their otherwise sumptuous play.

46 min: Spurs set the second half in rapid motion.

49 min: Norwich dare to attack. Holt scuppers the move with a miscued flick ... and Spurs hurtle forward ... before coming undone with another wayward Bale shot. "Hope it's not getting you down, this working on Boxing Day +1," chirps Peter McLeod. "At least it's a decent game? What was your favourite Christmas present? I got Hawksmoor at Home, but am perhaps more excited by my awesome new messenger bag." A messenger bag? A Hawksmoor? I don't know what either of those things are (unless a messenger bag is something you pack your shopping in, in which case I don't understand this chap's excitement).

52 min: Lovely subtlety by Surman to slyly push the ball past Gallas and set off after it - Gallas hauls him down, giving Norwich a freekick on the rim of the box, perfectly central.

53 min: Surman takes the freekick himself and curls it narrowly wide.

54 min: Another corner for Spurs and this time they vary their approach, Van der Vaart curling the ball away from the keeper. So instead a Norwich defender clears.

GOAL! Norwich 0-1 Spurs (Bale 56') That has long seemed inevitable! It came from a patient but persistent build-up from the visitors, with Van der Vaart pinging the ball into Adebayor, who showed quick feet to get it under control and the nudge it out to Bale, who drove it under Ruddy from 15 yards

59 min: Adebayor has collapsed by himself off the ball, seemingly with hamstring trouble. "Or maybe it's the top of his buttock," suggests Ray Wilkin on Sky.

60 min: Adebayor is back on his feet and looking sprightly again, his hamstring and buttocks seemingly in perfect working order again, which can only be a good thing.

62 min: Kyle Walker has been brilliant at everything tonight except shooting, and he offers up further evidence just now with a preposterous blem over the bar from 18 yards. My colleague Alan Gardner, who is counting on Walker scoring in order to close the gap to me in the Guardian's fantasy football league to a mere 100 points, is on the verge of tears.

64 min: Norwich subtitution: De Laet appears to have pulled his hamstring (or his buttocks) and has to be replaced. On comes Barnett.

66 min: Adebayor has a goal disallowed - quite right as he hjad inexcusably wandered a couple of yards offside, but a shame too, as Assou-Ekotto's pass to him was wonderful.

GOAL! Norwich 0-2 Spurs (Bale 67') Modric feeds Bale, who gallops from 40 yards out through the heart of the Norwich defence and then clips the ball daintily over Ruddy. Power, strength and poise = a splendid goal.

68 min: Whitbread booked for a despicable tackle in midfield designed to quash a Walker-led Spurs counter-attack.

70 min: Norwich are tiring and Spurs are buoyant: there could be more goals here. Bale had a chance to go for a hat-trick just now but unselfishly fed Modric, who spanked a low shot at goal from 22 yards - but straight at Ruddy.

72 min: Spurs change: Assou-Ekotto off, Danny Rose on.

75 min: Norwich changes: Drury and Crofts off, Pilkington and Bennett on. "Ray Wilkins - the only man alive less likeable than Ian Botham," wails Jonny Ekford bizarrely. Botham is a fine former cricketer-turned- insightful commentator who raises lots of money for charity and Wilkins is a fine former footballer turned insightful and thoroughly positive commentator who is currently working on this match for Sky. I fail to see how anyone can be sufficiently appalled by either man to bash out an email to a worldwide media spewer.

78 min: After another flowing Spurs move, Adebayor blasts way over. Speaking of the Togolese: I asked Harry Redknapp at the start of this season why he thought Man City agreed to loan him to Spurs given that they told him last season that they wouldn't give him anyone (he wanted Bellamy, in particular). Redknapp said: "Maybe they don't think we're a threat to them this season." Might they be proved very wrong?

81 min: At least Norwich's spirit is not sagging. They're continuing to venture forward as best they can but they do not have the ingenuity of Spurs ... who hurtle down the other end and create a clear opportunity, Adebayor knocking it sideways to Modric to have a go from 10 yards. Saved by Ruddy.

85 min: Spurs substitution: Van der Vaart off, Krancjar on.

86 min: Pilkington crosses from the left. Morison climbs well but can't steer his header on target. "Wilkins and Neville have changed the scene this year," notes Ben Dunn correctly. "I was never a fan of either but they're better than most when blabbing away about what everyone can actually see."

89 min: Hoolahan goes down in the box but Parker's tackle was well-timed. Spurs thus rip forward anew. And their attack concludes with a delicious cross from the left from Bale ... but it's fractionally too far in front of Adebayor, who might have dived for it if Spurs weren't already two up with only seconds to go.

90+3 min: Martin jumps at the back post to nod a corner just wide. Norwich are finishing on the attack, attesting to their indomitable spirit.

90+4 min: Pointless Spurs sub: Parker off, Livermore on ... with seconds to go.

Full-time: In a week in which so many title pretenders toiled to draws, Spurs dispatch a valiant Norwich side in mightily impressive fashion: they look the only team capable of taking the Premier League crown from Manchester.

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