Dean Smith won his first game as Norwich coach

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Dean Smith won his first game as Norwich coach. Norwich City fought back to clinch a first home Premier League win of the season against Southampton in Dean Smith’s first game in charge.

Captain Grant Hanley headed in a late winner from Billy Gilmour’s corner as the Canaries, who climb off the foot of the table to 19th, recorded successive top-flight wins for the first time since 2016.

Former Aston Villa boss Smith suffered the worst possible start to his Norwich tenure when Saints striker Che Adams found the bottom corner after only four minutes at Carrow Road. However, the hosts were level three minutes later as Teemu Pukki headed in Max Aarons’ cross at the near post.

The equaliser was Norwich’s sole attempt in an otherwise entirely one-sided first half. A dominant Saints registered 12 shots on goal but Adams was denied by Tim Krul at close range with the visitors’ best chance shortly before half-time.

Smith’s men were much improved following the interval, Milot Rashica forcing Alex McCarthy into action while the Saints goalkeeper sprang to his near post to deny Pukki a fine solo goal with 15 minutes remaining.

He was unable to reach Hanley’s header, though, as Norwich survived late Southampton pressure to secure a winning start to Smith’s reign.

The Saints remain 13th in the table. Smith enjoys winning start in bid for survival
A mere eight days separated the end of Smith’s three-year spell at Aston Villa on 7 November and his appointment as manager of Norwich during the international break.

The struggling Canaries acted swiftly to replace the dismissed Daniel Farke, whose own reign ended with a morale-boosting first league win of the season to offer his successor suitable encouragement that survival can be attained.

Indeed, Smith insisted he had not taken a “risk” in assuming control of a club with five points – effectively six points from safety – after 11 games.

The former Walsall and Brentford manager’s first task was to end Norwich’s 10-game winless home run in the top flight, but Adam’s well-taken opener made that aim substantially tougher for a side which had lost their previous 33 Premier League matches when conceding first.

Mohamed Elyounoussi, Kyle Walker-Peters and Adam Armstrong each saw strikes repelled by resolute Canaries defending and – after Ibrahima Diallo had robbed Hanley of possession – Krul came to the hosts’ rescue when Adams broke clear before the break.

Aiming to win three successive league matches for the first time since November 2020, Southampton had hit form prior to the two-week break but failed to replicate their first-half display.

The hosts still had to hold their nerve in the closing stages and Theo Walcott’s header flew narrowly wide in stoppage time, but it was ultimately a second-half performance that will fill Smith with optimism at the beginning of his new challenge.

Source – BBC News

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