Norwich get helping hand from former Canary Jussi

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesJussi Jaaskelainen's penalty on Gary Hooper turned the tide in West Ham's 3-1 defeat at Norwich City.

Salvation for Norwich City came from the most unlikely source at a fraught Carrow Road in the Canaries' 3-1 Premier League win over West Ham.

If the fates had conspired differently, Hammers' stopper Jussi Jaaskelainen could have been at the opposite end of the pitch adding his considerable presence to the collective desire to alleviate the mounting pressure on Norwich boss Chris Hughton.

Jaaskelainen arrived in 1997 for a brief City trial from his then Finnish club VPS Vassa before returning to his homeland and eventually back to these shores to build a career with Bolton. Jaaskelainen clearly retains an affection for Norfolk given his rare aberration that tipped a game (which appeared to be heading only one way) on its axis.

Gary Hooper rifled home an equaliser from the penalty spot to cancel out Ravel Morrison's first half opener after Jaaskelainen's desperate lunge felled Hooper in his efforts to retrieve a ball spilled under pressure from Michael Turner. Robert Snodgrass and Leroy Fer sealed the win which moved Hughton's men above the Hammers and out of the bottom three ahead of the latest international shut down.

The relief was palpable, the feeling inescapable, that this was a big moment in Hughton's Norwich career. Fer raced towards the benched Sebastien Bassong after his stoppage time third to spark mass delirium in front of the home technical area. The sight of injured midfielder Alex Tettey in close proximity to the joyous huddle balancing precariously on the crutches he will need for the foreseeable future following recent ankle ligament surgery typified the unity within Norwich's dressing room.

Adversity is nothing new to this club or set of players; a core of whom still remain from the collective who propelled the Canaries away from the depths of League One not all that long ago. City's path to Premier League consolidation in their third consecutive year at such a rarefied level had begun to unravel in recent weeks, culminating in a humiliating 7-0 reverse last weekend at Manchester City. It says much for Hughton, his coaching staff and the men he entrusted, that they responded in such emphatic fashion. Yet, in truth it was Jaaskelainen's error which defined the contest after Sam Allardyce's over-populated midfield had suffocated the life out of the hosts following a bright start. City were fortunate to trail only by Morrison's close range tuck at the interval: Guy Demel struck the woodwork with a near post header; Kevin Nolan had more than one sight of John Ruddy's goal. The Canaries held firm but few inside Carrow Road could have foreseen such a turnaround.

West Ham conceded more goals in one half of Premier League football than in their previous five away games this season. Norwich scored more goals in one half of football than in the entire five previous matches of toil and hardship. The headline figures really do not do justice to the potential ramifications of Jaaskelainen's spill. Now it is Allardyce and his men who will find themselves in the harsh spotlight until the circus reconvenes in a fortnight.

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