Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Holt leaves Canaries singing

Norwich striker Grant Holt was left with the simplest of finishes

Grant Holt's late strike gave Norwich a narrow 1-0 victory over Celtic in their pre-season friendly at Parkhead.

After a night of close calls at both ends, the Canaries captain had the easiest of tasks in the 89th minute when the ball fell to him a few yards from goal, after Hoops keeper Fraser Forster had blocked a drive from Jonathan Howson, to slam the ball into the net.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon was in Iceland to see KR Reykjavik play HJK Helsinki in the Champions League qualifiers, with the Finnish side winning 2-1 for a 9-1 aggregate success which sets up a trip to Parkhead next week in the first leg of the third qualifying round.

Lennon will already know following Saturday's 4-0 friendly defeat by Ajax in Amsterdam, that his side will have to improve if they are to get into the Champions League play-offs.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton named a team for the first half, including former Rangers defender Steven Whittaker, and a team for the second half. Whittaker was jeered when touched the ball and when he went off injured in the 21st minute, to be replaced by Russell Martin.

Before and after that, both sides had chances to break the deadlock but it was a first half of near misses.

Having lost defender Kelvin Wilson to injury already, the home side lost their keeper Lukasz Zaluska two minutes from the break. A clash between James Vaughan and Zaluska left the Pole requiring treatment before he was replaced by Forster.

Kris Commons went close with a drive from distance seven minutes after the break before Forster stuck out a foot to block Chris Martin's close-range flick at the other end.

Moments later Celtic captain Georgios Samaras missed a great chance when he was sent clear by Paddy McCourt but the Hoops forward lobbed the ball high over the bar with Ruddy in no man's land.

With four minutes remaining Forster was almost caught out by Simeon Jackson's long-distance drive but the keeper had less luck when Holt, one of the second-half substitutes, pounced moments later.