A FIRST half goal blitz helped Norwich City begin their Sky Bet Championship season in style as they thrashed Blackburn Rovers 4-1 at Ewood Park.
Jacob Murphy's stunning long-range strike after just 12 minutes set the tone, the youngster drilling an unstoppable drive into the top corner from well outside the penalty area.
The imperious Wes Hoolahan's strike put Rovers firmly on the back foot before Cameron Jerome added another by stealing in at the back post, taking his side's tally to three inside only 24 minutes.
Blackburn were off the pace in every department, and their misery was compounded early in the second half when Hoolahan nutmegged Adam Henley to set up Steven Naismith for the fourth.
Substitute Anthony Stokes' 67th-minute towering header gave the home fans something to cheer, but City cruised through the remainder of the contest with Alex Pritchard given his full debut as a late replacement for Hoolahan.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Murphy made his first league appearance for the Club after a successful loan stint at Coventry City last term, beginning on the right wing.
In-form Hoolahan started off the left, with Naismith supporting frontman Jerome. Ryan Bennett partnered Timm Klose in defence, while Jonny Howson captained the side from central midfield.
John Ruddy was in between the sticks as he began his seventh season with the Canaries, and Martin Olsson returned to his former club at left-back. Ivo Pinto started at right-back, with Alex Tettey completing the eleven.
New signing Pritchard was among the substitutes, while former Canaries pair Elliot Ward and Elliott Bennett took their place in Owen Coyle's first team as Blackburn manager.
The first goal is always important, they say - and some goal this was, one that would have settled any nerves Alex Neil's team's had prior to kick-off.
What a moment it was for the Canaries' Academy graduate Murphy, who would have dreamed of scoring when he learned he was to play, but surely wouldn't have foreseen such a memorable first Canaries strike.
The nature and timing of the 25-yard thunderbolt set City into their stride, with Hoolahan and Jerome's goals quickly following to all but finish the contest in the opening half.
WHAT IT MEANS
The victory at Ewood Park ended a famous 14-year City run - this is the first time they have triumphed on the opening day since beating Grimsby Town 4-0 in 2002.
It also launched their bid for an immediate return to the Premier League in the perfect fashion, with any lingering memories of last year's relegation quickly banished with this swashbuckling and high quality display.
In terms of the Sky Bet Championship table, Neil's Canaries sat perched at the summit at the end of the afternoon's play, with East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town joining them in the top two.
: Anthony Stokes (67) - Canaries
: Jacob Murphy (12), Wes Hoolahan (17), Cameron Jerome (24), Steven Naismith (58)
: Steele; Henley, Lowe (c), Feeney, Marshall, Graham, Ward (Greer 21), Akpan (Byrne 63), Duffy, Lenihan, Bennett (Stokes 45). Subs not used
: Raya (GK), Hendrie, Guthrie, Conway.
: Ruddy; Pinto, Bennett, Klose, Olsson (Whittaker 53); Howson (c) (Mulumbu 76), Tettey; Ja. Murphy, Naismith, Hoolahan (Pritchard 80); Jerome. Subs not used
: McGovern (GK), Bassong, Lafferty, Jo. Murphy.
: Tony Harrington
City will host their first Sky Bet Championship match of the new season when last year's defeated play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday visit Carrow Road for next Saturday's televised clash (5.30pm).
Don't miss out - tickets are on general sale HERE