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Norwich 1-2 Fulham Prem 18 1314 The Guardian

last updated Friday 27th December 2013, 1:17 PM

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Richard Rae at The Guardian

Norwich (1) 1 Fulham (1) 2

There was encouragement for Fulham here that went beyond the acquisition of three points away from home. Having fallen behind to a deflected shot by Gary Hooper, Rene Meulensteen's much-changed side came back with spirit and, having equalised through Pajtim Kasami's free-kick, played well enough to deserve the fine late goal by Scott Parker that gave them renewed hope of avoiding relegation.

Meulensteen, who began the match sitting alongside his newly appointed first-team technical director, Alan Curbishley, in the stand, was understandably pleased with the effort the former Charlton and West Ham manager had witnessed.

"Alan is going to provide fantastic support with his experience and I'm happy he saw the performance and the team spirit," said the Dutchman. "I hope he can add to it and we have an even better chance of staying in the Premier League.

"My main job is to concentrate on training. It's one of my main strengths. I always say whatever happens on the training pitch will manifest itself in games. Alan is there as a sort of extra opinion, to offer advice on whatever he sees and thinks in relation to strategy and tactics, that sort of thing. I think it's going to be a good combination."

While Norwich were unchanged, Meulensteen shook things up in the hope of avoiding a fourth defeat in five games since he took over from the sacked Martin Jol, bringing in Damien Duff, Alexander Kacaniklic, Fernando Amorebieta and Kasami in an attempt to stop the rot, with David Stockdale replacing the injured Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.

It seemed luck was not on their side when Hooper let fly from some 26 yards. The low shot would have been easily saved by Stockdale but the ball struck the outstretched foot of Aaron Hughes before arcing over and beyond the Fulham goalkeeper and into the net. It was Hooper's fourth goal in his last four games at Carrow Road.

Fulham's response was strong. Kasami saw his low left-foot shot from an angle beat John Ruddy but roll a foot wide and Duff should have converted Kasami's inviting low cross but the equaliser was not long delayed. Moments after an attempted clearance by Ruddy had rebounded back into his goal off what the referee, Jon Moss, decided had been Parker's deliberately raised hand, a Norwich defensive wall set up to keep out Kasami's free-kick disintegrated as it jumped, allowing a far from venomous left-footed shot to pass through and beat Ruddy as he dived to his left.

It took a fine clearing header by Sascha Riether to prevent Leroy Fer putting City back ahead from a Robert Snodgrass corner early in the second half, and both managers made attacking changes. Ruddy rode his luck after failing to hold a cross and Hugo Rodallega poked the loose ball against his chest, but with time running out Parker picked up a half-cleared corner and drove a fine shot across and past the City goalkeeper.

"We made some poor decisions and didn't create enough clear-cut chances but it wasn't a case of players not giving enough," said the Norwich manager, Chris Hughton.

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