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21:30 13th January 2016


TEN-MAN Norwich City performed spiritedly against Stoke City but eventually lost 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium.

Alex Neil's Canaries edged the first half hour but suddently found themselves at a man disadvantage when Gary O'Neil was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Ibrahim Afellay.

Jonathan Walters fired Stoke in front soon after the break but Jonny Howson's stunner drew City level just six minutes later.

Joselu's smart finish from outside the box put Mark Hughes' hosts back in front before a Ryan Bennett own goal left the final result in no doubt on 78 minutes.

City's attentions will now quickly turn to Saturday and another Premier League away game against fellow promoted side Bournemouth.

They made one change from their last league game against Southampton as Vadis Odjidja replaced Nathan Redmond in midfield.

There was a welcome return for Matt Jarvis on the Canaries' bench, the winger having been missing since he suffered a knee injury against Manchester City in October.

Stoke were missing record signing Xherdan Shaqiri, so Spanish forward Joselu started up front. Former Norwich loanee Peter Crouch was named on the substitutes' bench.

The visitors settled into the game the quicker but Stoke fashioned the first chance on seven minutes when Joselu floated a pass into Marko Arnautovic's path - Declan Rudd was equal to the Austrian's low shot.

There was an open nature to the contest with the Potters finding space in wide areas while City's midfielders were seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages of the half.

Arnautovic was heavily involved and created the game's next clear opening on 27 minutes when he played a perfectly weighted pass to Joselu, who poked the ball narrowly wide.

Wes Hoolahan almost punished a scuffed Jack Butland clearance before the Stoke 'keeper was truly tested for the first time as he pushed away a Ryan Bennett effort from inside the area.

Just after the half hour mark, however, the complexion of the game changed when O'Neil was dismissed, referee Neil Swarbrick brandishing the red card after a poorly timed lunge from the midfielder on Afellay.

The pattern of the half changed little in the remaining 15 minutes of the half, though, with Jon Walters' off-target effort the only other opportunity.

HALF-TIME: Stoke City 0-0 Norwich City

Walters scored the game's opening goal just four minutes after half-time to give the hosts' the advantage.

Arnautovic whipped in a cross from the left and the former Ipswich man raced in at the back post to convert beyond Rudd - but six minutes later, the home crowd were stunned.

When the ball broke to Howson on the edge of the box from Odjidja's chest-down, the midfielder unleashed a superb shot into the top corner on the half volley, leaving Butland helpless and hauling ten-man Canaries level.

Neil responded by bringing on Redmond and Jarvis to give his side even more pace on the counter-attack, but it was Stoke who got the game's third goal on 67 minutes.

Afellay touched the ball to Joselu 20 yards from goal, and the forward turned before finding the bottom corner with an accurate finish beyond Rudd.

Redmond drilled wide after picking up Dieumerci Mbokani's pass on the edge of the box as Neil's men looked to strike another leveller, but time was running out.

Then, with 12 minutes left on the clock, Afellay delivered a free-kick that Bennett unfortunately turned into his own net to all but put the game to bed.

Rudd denied substitute Crouch with a fine reflex save, but City's keeper was on the losing side this time as Stoke collected maximum points at the Britannia Stadium.

FULL-TIME: Stoke City 3-1 Norwich City

GOALS: Potters: Jonathan Walters (49), Joselu (67), Ryan Bennett OG (78) - Canaries: Jonny Howson (55)

STOKE CITY: Butland; Johnson, Shawcross (c), Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Afellay; Walters, Bojan (Odemwingie 56), Arnautovic (van Ginkel 76); Joselu (Crouch 82). Subs not used: Haugaard (GK), Wilson, Adam, Diouf.

NORWICH CITY: Rudd; Martin (c), Bennett, Bassong, Brady; Odjidja (Redmond 62), O'Neil, Tettey, Howson; Hoolahan (Jarvis 63); Mbokani (Jerome 75). Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Wisdom, Dorrans, Olsson.

REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick



    Did you know Norwich City Football Club have appeared in three Wembley cup finals?