Thursday, 29 November 2012

Paulo Gazzaniga's Clanger Costs Southampton

Referee Mark Clattenburg's return was overshadowed by a terrible mistake from Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga that gifted Norwich a point. 

Clattenburg was in charge for the first time since Chelsea made a false accusation of racial abuse against him.

But Gazzaniga's poor attempt to stop Robert Snodgrass's free-kick in the 45th minute was the talking point. 

The goal cancelled out Rickie Lambert's 32nd-minute finish after a free-kick deflected to him off Grant Holt.

Clattenburg was applauded by fans as he warmed up for his first game since the match between Chelsea and Manchester United on 28 October.

And he had an easy night with the only decision open to contention surrounding Lambert's goal.

Before the ball dropped for him off Norwich skipper Holt it bounced up off his arm.

Norwich appealed for a free-kick but Lambert knew little about the ball until it smacked his limb.

The goal was fully deserved as Southampton had run the opening stages of the game.

They felt they should have been awarded a penalty when defender Sebastien Bassong used his shoulder to barge Adam Lallana to the ground as the pair tussled for a ball, but Clattenburg was not interested.

Lallana's next foray into the box almost brought the opener. Lambert picked him out superbly with a cross the Saints captain caught on the volley and watched fly just over the bar.

Southampton did not have to wait much longer for their opener, though, with Lambert scoring his sixth of the season.

It should have triggered a flurry of goals, but instead Southampton's Achilles heel of letting leads slip returned to haunt them again.

Nigel Adkins's men had shipped 13 points from winning positions before this game and they let more fall through their fingers just before the break.

Snodgrass's low free-kick beat the wall but looked an easy stop for Gazzaniga. That was until the 20-year-old Argentine let the ball bounce under him.

Gazzaniga is the third keeper Southampton have used this season after Kelvin Davis and Artur Boruc both failed to nail down their place in what is proving a problem position for the south coast club.

The keeper partly redeemed himself by making a point-blank stop to keep out Holt's header from a corner early in the second half, and that gave Southampton hope of recording a third successive win.

Jason Puncheon tested keeper Mark Bunn, called up after first choice John Ruddy was ruled out for three months with a thigh injury, with a shot that was threatening to arrow into the bottom corner.

Lallana then latched onto a Lambert knockdown and drilled a shot over the bar.

Southampton's final chance of the night dropped to Lambert, who powered an effort from distance off target.

That miss ensured Norwich extended their unbeaten run to seven matches and left Southampton in the relegation zone.

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