Norwich beats Swansea, 3-1
Norwich manager Paul Lambert hailed Anthony Pilkington after he bounced back from his Old Trafford nightmare by firing the Canaries to victory in Saturday's 3-1 win over Swansea at Carrow Road.
Two weeks ago Pilkington, a £2million summer signing from Huddersfield, missed a glorious chance to put Norwich ahead against Manchester United and then went on to hit the post in the second half before the Barclays Premier League newcomers eventually lost 2-0.
The 23-year-old was far more ruthless in front of goal on Saturday, however, taking just 50 seconds to put the Canaries ahead before sealing the victory with a close-range strike after making room for himself with a clever turn in the box.
Lambert's men were far superior in this afternoon's clash, with Pilkington and striker Steve Morison the star performers against a Swansea team whose threat fizzled away after they pulled one back through Danny Graham following Russell Martin's strike, which put the hosts 2-0 up.
Lambert was quick to praise the mental toughness of Pilkington, who has also had to deal with the trauma of coming back from a broken leg he suffered while playing for Huddersfield last term.
"What Pilkington does with his deliveries and his influence on the team is excellent," Lambert said.
"To get two goals after a horrendous leg break and what happened at Old Trafford, he will be delighted.
"I spoke to him after the United game and I just told him to continue playing the way he usually does.
"His play at Old Trafford was excellent. He just needed that goal.
"There was a little bit of pressure after what happened a fortnight ago so to come back and do it in front of your own fans the way he did was terrific."
Morison, despite not finding the net, was arguably as big an influence as Pilkington on the outcome of the game.
Many questioned the wisdom of paying Millwall around £3million this summer for Morison - a man who was playing non-league football two years ago - but the striker was brilliant today, bullying the Swans back four with a penetrative aggressive performance.
The display, which included a knock-down for Pilkington's first, did not go un-noticed by Lambert.
"I felt that was as good a game I have seen a number nine play in a long time," Lambert said.
"Grant Holt has played some really big games for us there, but I thought Morison was exceptional today.
"He is a major player for us. He is a real handful all the time.
"He's a real strength to have in your team and his contribution was special today."
Lambert has now collected 11 points from the club's first eight Barclays Premier League matches.
With his team now ninth in the table, they are looking anything but the relegation certainties they were labelled when they were promoted from the npower Championship last season.
The Scot was happy to see his men come away with three points after the opportunities they missed against the champions a fortnight ago.
"I thought we were excellent from start to finish today," he said.
"Swansea shook us a bit when they scored that goal, but apart from that, I thought we were excellent.
"In many ways winning Swansea was a lot tougher than Manchester United because we weren't expected to get anything from Old Trafford.
"Everybody thought we were just going to turn up and beat Swansea today but it was tough. Swansea are a good side. (Manager) Brendan Rodgers has got them playing well. They are a really top side."
Rodgers felt his side's poor defending cost the Welshmen dearly.
The Swans, who were searching for their first top-flight away win since 1982, were guilty of slack marking for all three goals, the worst being the second, which Martin was allowed to head home unmarked to make it 2-0 in the ninth minute.
"I thought they were 2-0 before we got going today," Rodgers said.
"I thought offensively we looked bright, clever, and threatening, but defensively we were disappointing and we are usually solid at the back.
"We just had one of those days where our basics went missing."