Norwich's Hooper continues to press his England claims

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Gary Hooper group celeb Swansea NorwichPA PhotosGary Hooper scored a stunning strike to make it 1-1 against Swansea.

Gary Hooper is rapidly turning into a Norwich City cult hero after his stunning volley rescued a Premier League point in a 1-1 home draw against Swansea on Saturday.

Hooper’s sixth goal for the club he joined in the summer from Celtic will surely take some beating after an instinctive dipping strike arced over Michel Vorm from fully 25 yards to cancel out Nathan Dyer’s early opener.

Swansea looked in total control of proceedings despite a grueling week which saw them play Hull on Monday night and then endure a European trip to Switzerland before securing a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Norwich’s support -- and, perhaps more pertinently, Chris Hughton and his players -- would have expected to swarm over the Welsh outfit and probe for any signs of fatigue, but it was Michael Laudrup’s players who finished the stronger at Carrow Road.

Hooper’s goal checked the visitors’ early momentum, but Norwich never threatened to wrestle back the initiative despite the 25-year-old’s brilliant individual finish. Vorm later denied Hooper with a sharp one-handed parry in a second period that lapsed into an attritional battle for territory either side of the half-way line.

Swansea threatened routinely until they reached the periphery of John Ruddy’s penalty box, where more often than not the smooth passing rhythms petered out despite the latent promise.

Wilfried Bony had the England keeper scrambling across his line in a late moment of alarm but Norwich’s defence largely repelled the invaders.

Hughton understandably conveyed a level of frustration afterwards when he faced the media deep in the bowels of the Main Stand at failing to grasp what appeared a genuine opportunity to move into the Premier League’s top 10. But he was also willing to concede a point in the final analysis against such a difficult foe may well grow in value over these coming months.

Norwich may well have won this game if Vorm had not athletically denied Hooper and Swansea not gotten goal-line clearances from Ashley Williams and Jordi Amat; the latter cannoning off the underside of Swansea’s bar, to deny Michael Turner. But Norwich could easily have lost as well, particularly with the excellent Dyer escaping detection in the opening quarter, capped by a cool lift over the stranded Ruddy that exposed Sebastien Bassong during the build-up.

When the pair re-opposed later in the half it signaled the beginning of the end of Dyer’s afternoon and in all probability a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Laudrup confirmed afterward his wide player had gone to hospital for scans on a suspected fractured ankle when Bassong landed heavily on the stricken midfielder after an aerial collision.

Dyer left the field on a stretcher with his right leg in a protective brace. It was a debilitating blow Swansea commendably recovered from either side of Hooper’s blinding volley -- which also underlined the striker’s late bid for a surprise England call ahead of next summer’s World Cup may not be quite as fanciful as it appeared a few short weeks ago.


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