Norwich seal Premier League place
Simeon Jackson scored as Norwich defeated Portsmouth to seal back-to-back promotions and return to the Premier League after an absence of six years.
The goal capped a remarkable rise for the Canaries, who started the 2009-10 campaign in League One on the wrong end of an opening-day 7-1 thrashing by Colchester more than 18 months ago.
But under manager Paul Lambert, who left the U's for Carrow Road shortly after that match, the Norfolk side have now become the first club since Manchester City in 2000 to secure back-to-back promotions into the top flight.
Cardiff, their main rivals for the second automatic promotion spot, were thrashed at home by Middlesbrough earlier on Monday, leaving the Canaries knowing that three points at Fratton Park would guarantee promotion.
And Jackson struck with a close-range header shortly after the start of the second half to clinch a 1-0 win and the three points his team undoubtedly deserved - and in the process gave Norwich a four-point advantage over the Bluebirds with one game of the season left.
PAUL FLETCHER BLOG
“The yellow and green Canaries will certainly add a splash of colour to the top flight as they return to it after a six-year absence.”
Norwich won the League One title by nine points last May but few predicted they would win another promotion so quickly.
However, Lambert's side have not lost back-to-back fixtures all season and have been defeated in just one of their last 15 matches, showing a level of consistency that has seen them deservedly claim a place in the Premier League.
In truth, Norwich ought to have simplified Monday's task within minutes of the match starting but Zak Whitbread missed a great chance, heading wide after a free-kick skimmed off the wall and fell invitingly for him inside the six-yard box.
Jackson had a shot blocked shortly afterwards but any thoughts that Pompey would prove to be accommodating hosts were quickly dispelled.
Hermann Hreidarsson lunged into Grant Holt with a heavy challenge and Aaron Mokoena was booked for a late tackle on Jackson as Pompey tried to rattle their opponents.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the match became increasingly scrappy but Norwich did fashion two further openings before the break.
A David Fox free-kick fell to Elliott Ward but the unmarked defender saw his header drift wide, while Holt went close after one of the few moments of real quality in the match.
He flicked the ball beyond Mokoena with a brilliant first touch but, under pressure from advancing keeper Jamie Ashdown, his shot lacked power and the defender was able to scramble back and clear the danger as the ball rolled towards the line.
Jackson wasted a decent chance shortly after the restart, dragging a shot across goal and wide under pressure from Mokoena.
But his header in front of more than 3,000 away fans from Fox's teasing cross saw the Canadian score his ninth in seven games to put the Canaries in front in the 50th minute.
Right-back Russell Martin almost doubled their advantage with a crisp strike from 16 yards that Ashdown did well to save but Jackson's goal had undoubtedly stung Pompey into life and they started to threaten the Norwich goal.
Kanu almost diverted a low strike from David Nugent beyond John Ruddy, while the home side won a series of corners and pressurised the away defence with long throws into the penalty box.
However, Pompey's challenge petered out and there were relatively few alarms for Norwich as they protected their lead and sealed promotion, with their players charging towards their supporters at the final whistle to celebrate their remarkable triumph.
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.90:00 +2:50
Centre by Liam Lawrence, Grant Holt manages to make a clearance.90:00 +1:44
The referee blows for offside against Simeon Jackson. Jamie Ashdown restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +1:04
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Jonathan Hogg. Direct free kick taken by Russell Martin.86:07 Substitution
Substitution Simon Lappin on for Andrew Surman.84:50
Foul by Zak Whitbread on David Nugent, free kick awarded. Liam Lawrence delivers the ball, Header by Hermann Hreidarsson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.84:28
Wesley Hoolahan has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide left of the goal.83:36
Elliott Ward takes the free kick.83:36 Substitution
Substitution Danny Webber is brought on as a substitute for Nwankwo Kanu.83:36
David Cotterill challenges Henri Lansbury unfairly and gives away a free kick.82:57
Liam Lawrence sends in a cross.81:01 Substitution
Substitution David Cotterill joins the action as a substitute, replacing Joel Ward.80:52
Jonathan Hogg produces a cross.80:17
The assistant referee flags for offside against Simeon Jackson. Aaron Mokoena takes the indirect free kick.80:04
The official flags Simeon Jackson offside. Free kick taken by Jamie Ashdown.79:07
Nwankwo Kanu is ruled offside. John Ruddy takes the indirect free kick.76:54
Free kick taken by Hayden Mullins.76:54 Substitution
Substitution (Norwich) makes a substitution, with Henri Lansbury coming on for David Fox.76:54
Zak Whitbread gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nwankwo Kanu.76:36
A cross is delivered by Andrew Crofts, Aaron Mokoena makes a clearance.
Corner taken right-footed by David Fox from the left by-line, clearance made by Greg Halford.67:33
John Ruddy takes the indirect free kick.67:33 Substitution
Substitution (Portsmouth) makes a substitution, with Liam Lawrence coming on for Carl Dickinson.67:33
Ritchie De Laet gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrew Surman.66:33
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Andrew Surman played to the near post, save by Jamie Ashdown.66:21
Andrew Surman has an effort at goal from 18 yards. Blocked by Aaron Mokoena.65:53
Simeon Jackson delivers the ball, clearance by Greg Halford.64:11
Andrew Surman takes the inswinging corner, save by Jamie Ashdown.64:06
The ball is swung over by Simeon Jackson, Greg Halford gets a block in.63:21
Grant Holt fouled by Greg Halford, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Andrew Surman from right wing, Aaron Mokoena makes a clearance.61:35
Nwankwo Kanu is caught offside. Free kick taken by John Ruddy.61:02
Wesley Hoolahan is penalised for a handball. Jonathan Hogg takes the indirect free kick.59:09
Simeon Jackson produces a left-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.56:50
Jonathan Hogg has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the target.56:39
David Nugent takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.55:55
Corner taken by Hayden Mullins from the left by-line, clearance made by Andrew Surman.55:39
Jonathan Hogg takes a shot. Russell Martin gets a block in.54:39
Corner taken left-footed by Andrew Surman to the near post, clearance by Carl Dickinson.54:25
Russell Martin takes a shot. Save made by Jamie Ashdown.53:59
Joel Ward delivers the ball, clearance by Elliott Ward.51:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Fox by Hayden Mullins. Andrew Surman delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, clearance by Ritchie De Laet.49:59
The ball is crossed by David Fox,49:47
David Fox provided the assist for the goal.49:47 Goal scored
Goal! - Simeon Jackson - Portsmouth 0 - 1 Norwich Simeon Jackson scores a headed goal from close range. Portsmouth 0-1 Norwich.48:01
Grant Holt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hayden Mullins. Jamie Ashdown takes the free kick.46:38
Shot by Simeon Jackson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +1:24 Half time
Half Time The match has reached half-time.45:00 +1:00
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Hermann Hreidarsson. John Ruddy takes the direct free kick.45:00 +0:30
Free kick awarded for a foul by Elliott Ward on Greg Halford. Greg Halford takes the direct free kick.43:39
The ball is crossed by Carl Dickinson.42:30
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Hayden Mullins by Andrew Surman. Hayden Mullins restarts play with the free kick.38:46
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Andrew Surman.38:29
Grant Holt takes a shot. Clearance made by Aaron Mokoena.36:31
Free kick awarded for a foul by Andrew Surman on Jonathan Hogg. Free kick taken by Jonathan Hogg.33:37
Foul by Carl Dickinson on Zak Whitbread, free kick awarded. A cross is delivered by David Fox, Header by Elliott Ward from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.32:23
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Russell Martin by Hermann Hreidarsson. Direct free kick taken by John Ruddy.31:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Joel Ward by Elliott Ward. Direct free kick taken by Greg Halford.30:34
Direct free kick taken by Zak Whitbread.30:34 Booking
Booking Hermann Hreidarsson shown a yellow card.30:27
Unfair challenge on Andrew Crofts by Hermann Hreidarsson results in a free kick.27:55
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Nugent by Elliott Ward. Jamie Ashdown takes the direct free kick.27:07
Corner taken by David Fox, clearance by Nwankwo Kanu.27:01
The ball is delivered by Andrew Crofts, Ritchie De Laet makes a clearance.22:05
Russell Martin delivers the ball, Jamie Ashdown makes a save.20:41
Joel Ward is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by John Ruddy.17:36
Free kick awarded for a foul by Joel Ward on Marc Tierney. David Fox crosses the ball in from the free kick.15:07
The referee blows for offside. Jamie Ashdown restarts play with the free kick.14:57
Marc Tierney sends in a cross.10:29
The ball is swung over by Simeon Jackson.8:43
The ball is sent over by David Fox, Andrew Crofts produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.8:43 Booking
Booking Aaron Mokoena receives a yellow card.8:26
Aaron Mokoena gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Simeon Jackson.7:47
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by David Fox from the left by-line, clearance made by Carl Dickinson.7:28
Simeon Jackson takes a shot. Aaron Mokoena gets a block in.6:23
Hermann Hreidarsson challenges Grant Holt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Andrew Surman from right channel, clearance made by Ritchie De Laet.1:42
Close range header by Zak Whitbread goes wide of the left-hand upright.0:31
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Grant Holt by Aaron Mokoena. David Fox produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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