Wigan 1-1 Norwich

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Wes Hoolahan scores for Norwich
The alert Hoolahan finished brilliantly for Norwich at the DW Stadium

Newly promoted Norwich fought back from a goal down to come away with a point from Wigan on the first day of the new Premier League season.

The Latics took the lead midway through the first half, when Ben Watson scored from the spot after Ritchie de Laet brought down Franco di Santo.

Norwich equalised on the stroke of half-time when Wes Hoolahan pounced on goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi's mistake.

Di Santo went close with a header while Watson's 20-yard shot hit the post.

Both sides will be content with a draw, although manager Roberto Martinez may think Wigan should have scored at least once from the flurry of chances they created in the last 10 minutes.

Lambert delighted with Norwich effort

The Spaniard stated in the lead-up to the match that it was a bad time to play Norwich and for the first 40 minutes he had little to worry about as the Canaries were cautious but also looked nervous at times, especially in defence.

Their plan seemed to be to stop Wigan first and build from there, although midfielder David Fox took that too literally when he fouled Di Santo inside the first minute and earned the first yellow card of the Premier League season.

Their next defensive mishap resulted in Wigan's opener. Lone frontman Di Santo dispossessed De Laet on the right and sped into the area before he was adjudged to have been unfairly brought down by the defender. It looked like a shoulder charge but referee Stuart Attwell was adamant the challenge was illegal.

Up stepped Watson to smash home the penalty for his seventh Premier League goal for the Latics.

Norwich picked up their own tempo soon after the goal, with Fox going close with a free-kick swung in from the left that eluded the crowd in the area and missed the far post by a couple of inches.

Martinez positive despite opening day draw

The Canaries were now causing the Wigan defence to flap and they levelled shortly before the interval.

Morison, who earlier came off to receive stitches following a clash of heads with Adrian Lopez, darted down the right and fired in a cross that took a deflection.

Al-Habsi spilt the ball on landing, allowing Hoolahan to rocket it into the roof of the net.

The second period was more entertaining, with both sides looking potent in the final third, especially Wigan.

Victor Moses twice came close for the Latics, almost scoring an early contender for goal of the season when he jinked past five players, but saw his shot from six yards blocked by the courageous Zak Whitbread.

Watson then made a bid for glory with a 20-yard punt that rebounded off John Ruddy's right-hand upright.

Late on, De Laet came to Norwich's rescue when he first stopped a goalbound Moses strike before picking himself up to block Hugo Rodallega's follow-up.

Norwich's best chance fell to last season's top scorer Grant Holt, but his header from eight yards floated over when he should have hit the target.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:

"I don't think we played as well as we can, that is quite clear.

"But it was a tricky fixture and you have to give great credit to Norwich - I don't think they changed one single bit from what they were doing last season in the Championship.

"They play with bravery and they took their chance really well.

"Probably 12 months ago we would have lost that game, but we had a real fighting spirit and it is fair to say that we were the team who finished the stronger.

"Without playing well, we got a result, and I don't think I've ever been able to say that at Wigan, so it is a real positive for me. But there are many areas we need to improve."

Norwich manager Paul Lambert:

"I think we've got to be happy with that.

"This is not an easy place to come and I think we gave as good as we got."

On the penalty incident, Lambert said: "I couldn't see at the time and I'd have to look at it again.

"De Laet has made a mistake, but he also redeemed himself towards the end with the two blocks, and he is only a young player.

"Hopefully he will learn from that, but I have to give him enormous credit for the blocks - it was brilliant defending."

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