Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Clattenburg centre-stage in draw

Mark Clattenburg was back in the fold as Norwich drew with Southampton
Mark Clattenburg was back in the fold as Norwich drew with Southampton

Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga proved the villain as Norwich secured a 1-1 from a match in which Mark Clattenburg's return to frontline refereeing was the main talking point.

The 20-year-old Argentinian has been found wanting on several occasions this season and was at fault for Robert Snodgrass' leveller, with the midfielder's free-kick somehow beating him at the near post to cancel out Rickie Lambert's controversial opener.

However, it was Clattenburg rather than Gazzaniga that was top of the agenda as he returned to action a month after Chelsea alleged he racially abused John Obi Mikel against Manchester United.

The St Mary's faithful were thankful to Clattenburg for the opener as a free-kick into the box ricocheted off Rickie Lambert's arm before he prodded home. The referee called foul in the 32nd minute after Snodgrass pulled back Luke Shaw.

Adam Lallana drifted the ball in for it to bounce off Lambert's arm onto Grant Holt, before it fell kindly for him to poke home.

However, Norwich managed to find a leveller before the break after Nathaniel Clyne took down Snodgrass on the edge of the 18-yard box.

The right-back was booked for the challenge and the Canaries midfielder took the set piece, firing a low strike that somehow beat Gazzaniga at his near post.

It was poor from the Argentinian goalkeeper and Saints looked to make amends early in the second half, with a Clyne cross certain to have been converted had it not been for Ryan Bennett's late block.

Norwich put more and more players behind the ball, frustrating Southampton as they pressed for a winner.

Lambert flashed a shot over after Snodgrass threatened, before Shaw limped off to be replaced by Ben Reeves. Jose Fonte blocked a fierce drive late on but neither side could find a winner, despite four minutes of stoppage time.

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