London - Robbie Brady boosted Norwich's fight for Premier League survival as the
winger sealed a crucial 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion that lifted
his side out of the relegation zone on Saturday.
Brady's strike early in the second half at the Hawthorns ended Norwich's
barren run of 10 league games without a victory as they celebrated
three points for the first time since January 2.
Alex Neil's side move above Sunderland into 17th place and they are
three points clear of the bottom three, although the Black Cats would
plunge Norwich back into the relegation zone if they win the Tyne-Wear
derby at Newcastle on Sunday.
Albion were unbeaten in their previous four league games, including a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in their last outing.
But Tony Pulis's team went into the match holding the unwanted
distinction of having fewer shots on target than any other top-flight
side this season and once again they badly lacked a cutting edge.
Albion were gifted an early chance to increase their tally in the early
stages when Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy miscued a clearance straight
to Salomon Rondon.
But the Albion striker had to stretch to reach the ball and couldn't get his shot away before Norwich scrambled back to clear.
Ruddy was a bundle of nerves and he made a hash of punching a corner
clear, allowing Albion midfielder Claudio Yacob to fire just over from
the edge of the penalty area.
After a lacklustre start, Norwich finally showed signs of life in attack
when Patrick Bamford and Dieumerci Mbokani combined to set up Brady,
whose 20-yard strike flew over the crossbar.
A low quality half reached its nadir when Gary O'Neil's careless pass
presented Stephane Sessegnon with a chance to gallop clear on goal, but
the Albion winger completely lost his composure as he lashed hurriedly
Neither side managed a shot on target in the first half, but Norwich
took the lead with their first opportunity five minutes after the
Matt Jarvis swung and missed when he tried to take a shot from Mbokani's
knock down, but Republic of Ireland international Brady followed up to
slam his strike past Ben Foster.
Although Norwich hadn't kept a clean sheet away from home all season,
their defence looked much improved in a 0-0 home draw with Manchester
City last weekend.
They built on that promising effort with another obdurate rearguard
action to easily frustrate Albion and secure a priceless result.