REPORT: NORWICH 3 ALBION 3
Brighton & Hove Albion made it three games unbeaten after an exhilarating 3-3 draw at Carrow Road against Norwich City.
The Seagulls have now collected five points from the last available nine, and were minutes away from collecting all three in a thrilling contest in the Norfolk rain.
Despite missing Elliott Bennett (ineligible) and Lewis Dunk (suspended), Sami Hyypia was boosted by the return of goalkeeper David Stockdale, centre-back Aaron Hughes and full-back Bruno, with the trio all named in the Finn’s starting line-up.
Albion had looked the more threatening of the two sides in the opening quarter and it paid dividends on 33 minutes, as Adrian Colunga’s tantalising cross was expertly guided home by the head of Bruno to give the Seagulls the lead.
But the slender advantage didn’t last long as Norwich hit back just four minutes later withJonny Howson heading home Nathan Redmond’s cross; and the Canaries almost scored again but Gordon Greer provided the block to deny Cameron Jerome just before half-time.
The hosts didn’t take long to get ahead after the re-start though, as former Albion youngster Russell Martin, on his 200th career appearance, struck the ball sweetly into the top corner of Stockdale’s goal from 30 yards.
Buoyed by taking the lead, the mood around the ground notably changed and would have only elevated further had Bradley Johnson found the net on 56 minutes. The former Albion loanee broke through but despite being two on one with the last man, he opted to shoot and was denied by an outstanding one-handed save from Stockdale.
It was end-to-end stuff and Stockdale was again on hand to block Lewis Grabban’s near-post drive and Redmond’s powerful strike, while sandwiched between the two Norwich chances Sam Baldock couldn’t find the power to direct Colunga’s header past John Ruddy.
The hosts would learn to rue those missed chances as Hyypia’s men hit back on 66 minutes through Kazenga LuaLua. The Congolese winger stepped inside, as the Norwich defenders stood off at their peril, before drilling a low strike into the far corner to level matters at 2-2.
Norwich retaliated, and Redmond came close but yet again found Stockdale in the way, before Baldock spun Jos Hooiveld in the City box, with the defender bringing the Albion forward down for a penalty. The spot-kick was nonchalantly rolled into the net by Colunga to put Albion ahead for a second time.
True to the flow of the game though, the scoring wasn’t complete and with Albion just four minutes away from victory, substitute Gary Hooper took the ball on his chest before firing City level from the edge of the box.
A frantic finale ensued with both sides keen to reap the reward of three points. Norwich’s Johnson picked up a second yellow card and received his marching orders as injury-time began, giving the Seagulls an extra man for the five additional minutes, but there was to be no sting in the tail for either side.