Russell Martin blames ‘mad two minutes’ for Norwich setback
Swansea head coach Russell Martin complained of a “mad two minutes” after Norwich sealed three points with a smash and grab raid to extend the hosts current winless run.
Teemu Pukki scored inside the opening minute before Norwich showed their defensive solidity to repel everything the Swans could throw at them.
After a six-game winless streak, Norwich have now won three out of their last five and lost just once.
It was a fifth away victory of the season for Dean Smith’s side, while Swansea’s failure means they have not won in six matches and they lie two points adrift of the play-off spots.
“I feel sick to be honest,” Martin said.
“We’ve paid for a mad two minutes at the start of the game and a lack of conviction, composure in the box.
“We created so many chances today. A few of their players came off the pitch and apologised which probably tells you the story of the game.
“I don’t think they felt they deserved to win and I don’t think we deserved to lose. But you can’t get away with conceding a goal like that to a team that possesses a lot of really top players.”
The only goal of the game came when Swansea gave away possession from the kick-off and should have been 1-0 down inside six seconds after mistakes from Ben Cabango and Joel Latibeaudiere let in Pukki.
The Norwich striker’s shot was blocked for a corner, but he did not have to wait long for the opener as Swansea failed to deal with Gabriel Sara’s inswinging kick, and after a flick-on by Kenny McLean, Pukki scored at the far post.
Swansea’s best opportunities to level came in the first half, but Joel Piroe’s shot was blocked by Grant Hanley before Jamie Paterson’s effort at the far post was saved by Angus Gunn.
Martin started with Wales defender Cabango and sent on three further returnees from the tournament in Qatar – Wales’ Joe Allen and additional squad player Ollie Cooper and Cameroon’s Olivier Ntcham.
It almost paid off midway through the second half when Cooper and Ntcham were involved in a move that ended with Piroe’s downward header bringing a fine save from Norwich keeper Gunn.
Moments later Kyle Naughton flashed a low cross into the Norwich goalmouth but Piroe was inches away from the crucial touch.
Norwich manager Smith praised the discipline of his players after the hard-fought away win lifted them to fourth in the Championship.
“I was really pleased with what we did today without the ball,” said Smith.
“It’s something I have been speaking about for a long time.
“When you come here and play a possession-based team, the message is you need to be more organised and disciplined and we were.
“We got the goal from the corner and in the second half we decided to hang on rather than be more progressive. I thought we were really hard to play against today.
“I said to the players afterwards that 1-0 is my favourite result. I’ll take 5-0, but 1-0 is my favourite.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.