City were beaten 3-1 in a tale of two halves at Cardiff City
Marco Stiepermann put City 1-0 up during a dominant first-half performance, but a powerful Cardiff side struck back three times in the second 45 minutes to condemn Norwich to defeat.
Daniel Farke made one change from City’s draw with Preston North End. Timm Klose returned from a brief injury lay-off, with Christoph Zimmermann dropping to the bench. Tom Trybull returned to the squad following an injury sustained against Barnsley, while Alex Pritchard continued his recovery with a place among the substitutes.
Cardiff made their intentions clear early with a series of dangerous balls into City’s box in the opening five minutes, but the Canaries backline was solid to the initial bombardment.
City grew into the game, lining up in a 4-3-3, with a midfield trio of Harrison Reed – sitting a little deeper – James Maddison and Mario Vrancic. Nelson Oliveira was up top, flanked by Wes Hoolahan on the right and Josh Murphy on the right.
Norwich came close to opening the scoring when a lovely free-kick from Hoolahan on the right of the area found Grant Hanley in space in the middle, but he directed his header straight at Etheridge.
A minute later and Cardiff had their first real chance of the game, a long free-kick into the City box falling kindly to Dannu Ward on the right of the six-yard box, but his volley flew narrowly wide.
On 22 minutes, a terrific sliding tackle from Vrancic prevented a Cardiff break, and then he clipped an excellent pass to the onrushing Murphy on the left, but he sent his half-volley high over the bar.
A tenacious opening 30 minutes from City was summed up by Vrancic winning everything in the middle of the pitch, and Maddison putting in a sliding tackle as Cardiff looked to break quickly down the left.
City really started to get on top in the last 10 minutes of the half, with Oliveira causing real problems to Cardiff’s backline.
Oliveira’s excellent running forced a corner in the 43rd minute, and Vrancic’s delivery was headed away. But it fell for Stiepermann on the edge of the area, and he crashed a low drive into the net from 20 yards to give City a deserved lead.
Norwich had the chance to double their lead in first-half stoppage time. Reed did brilliantly to break a Cardiff attack down and then sent Oliveira away through the centre. It was 2v1 briefly with Hoolahan up in support, but Oliveira elected to go it alone and his shot was saved by Etheridge.
Neil Warnock made two changes for the second half, with Omar Bogle and Lee Tomlin coming on for Craig Bryson and Danny Ward. Cardiff got back into it immediately with a penalty. A corner was swung in, and Norwich were penalised for an infringement, with Ivo Pinto booked. Joe Ralls put the spotkick away to Gunn’s left.
Minutes later Ralls almost gave Cardiff the lead when he rattled the crossbar from 10 yards.
A bit of magic from Vrancic in the centre circle almost helped restore City’s lead. His dummy allowed him to turn Ralls, and then he slipped a ball through to Oliveira. He spun Sol Bamba, but the centre-back recovered really well to block Oliveira’s fierce strike.
Cardiff turned the game around on 63 minutes, Junior Hoilett reacting first to a loose ball in the City box to fire over Gunn.
The game became more open as City pressed for an equaliser, with the Canaries taking more risks. Some great hold-up play from Oliveira on the edge of the area allowed Stiepermann to be fed in on the left. The German cut inside but his shot just goes over the bar.
In the 73rd minute Maddison got Murphy going down the left. The attacker He dribbled into the area and got a shot off from a tight angle but Etheridge got down well to parry it away.
With 10 minutes to go Cardiff made it three. Hoilett had too much space down the right, and his cross was turned in at the near post by Bogle.
Shortly after Pritchard replaced Maddison for City. He had an immediate chance to reduce the deficit, a powerful run from Oliveira feeding him on the penalty spot but his shot on the turn looped into Etheridge’s arms.
City pressed to get back into the game and created several half-chances, but they couldn't bounce back from Cardiff's second half turnaround.