Belfast Telegraph

Canaries stinging after ref calls

Norwich manager Alex Neil was left frustrated after two controversial decisions by rookie referee Simon Hooper cost his side in their Barclays Premier League opening 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace at Carrow Road.

After a positive start by last season's Sky Bet Championship play-off winners, when striker Lewis Grabban had a great early chance, Palace went ahead with a well-taken finish from Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles doubled their lead at the start of the second half through captain Damien Delaney.

However, substitute Nathan Redmond gave the Canaries hope with a 25-yard strike after 69 minutes before striker Cameron Jerome thought he had hooked in an equaliser - only for the goal to be ruled out for dangerous play.

After the referee also turned down a late penalty appeal when Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong looked to have been pushed in the back by Connor Wickham, Palace scored a third in stoppage time through Yohan Cabaye, condemning Neil to defeat in his first match as a Premier League manager.

Hooper was taking charge of his first Premier League game.

Neil said of the big decisions: "If the lad was going to be potentially hurt by Cameron's leg, then I think it might have been a foul, but I don't think that was the case. Hi s studs are no way any danger of hitting the lad, so as far as I am concerned it was a perfectly good goal disallowed.

"I am not going to sit here and criticise the referee, because they have difficult jobs, but when it affects the game and you potentially getting a point or three points, then it is frustrating.

"By all accounts Seb should have had a penalty towards the end of the game, but we did not help ourselves at time with defending, which was extremely sloppy."

Palace boss Alan Pardew could see the Jerome disallowed goal decision from both sides.

Pardew said: " To be fair to the referee, if that is anywhere else on the pitch, then you are going to get a foul - in the penalty box, with an overhead kick going in (the goal) you are going to feel hard done by, so I can understand Norwich's frustration."

Neil felt Norwich should have made more of their early promise.

He said: "We had enough chances, certainly in the first 30 minutes, but at this level it is about turning that dominance into goals, and when you do not do that you will get punished at times, which is what happened."

Norwich have been linked with a £10million move for Dynamo Kiev's Congo striker Dieumerci Mbokani.

"We are looking to add another forward. At this level, you need quality at the top end of the pitch," said Neil.

"We have got good players there, but the squad needs a bit of help as well."

Pardew was glad to have watched his side come through after a slow start.

"After about five minutes I realised I had picked the wrong team and realised the balance of the team was not very good," he said.

"Norwich were brilliant in the first 20 minutes and should have gone ahead, so we adjusted the wingers and that helped us, but a fter our second goal we got a bit comfortable.

"Although we got a third with the last kick, no doubt the score flattered us because this was a game which was even and we just had some nice quality moments.

"Sometimes as a manager your players have to get you out of jail, and at the end I thanked them for it."

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