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21 July 2012

Canaries edged out by Germans in Austria

STRIKER James Vaughan scored twice as Norwich City were given a tough workout in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of German side Hertha Berlin in Austria on Saturday.

Hertha forward Elias Kachunga's second-half penalty sealed the win and a hat-trick in what was Manager Chris Hughton's first game in charge of the Canaries, although there were plenty of positives to take away from an entertaining encounter.

Two goals in the space of a minute from Hertha striker Elias Kachunga took the gloss off a good start from City in the first half, but James Vaughan hit back early in the second to make it 2-1.

However Kachunga completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot minutes later, before another strike from Vaughan pulled City back to within a goal.

Hughton named started the game with Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson up front in a 4-4-2 formation, whilst ex-Leeds pair Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson kicked the match off in midfield, being flanked by Elliott Bennett and Andrew Surman.

John Ruddy was in goal behind a defence of Russ Martin, Ryan Bennett, Elliott Ward, and Simon Lappin.

It was the Canaries who started the brightest, getting plenty of joy down the right flank. First Jackson had an effort deflected wide, before Elliott Bennett's ball found Howson, whose shot got a touch to take it just over the bar on three minutes.

A positive start was soon undone however as Hertha striker Elias Kachunga struck twice in the space of a minute to give his side a shock 2-0 lead.

His first came goal in the 12th minute when he was put through one-on-one with Ruddy, and did well to keep his composure and slot the ball past the England man.

Before City had a chance to catch their breath, Kachunga was at it again, with an explosive finish from outside the area to make it two. 

Daniel Beichler was then denied by a wonderful block from Elliott Bennett, but at the other end the pace of Bennett and Jackson was causing Hertha problems.

In the 20th minute Elliott Bennett cut the ball back to Surman inside the box, but his ball to Holt was wayward and the attack broke down.

As the half wore on, City began to improve, and had several borderline offside decisions gone their way, they could have been back in it.

On 35 minutes Hertha 'keeper Thomas Kraft made a mess of a bouncing ball, which left an open goal. Unfortunately Elliott Bennett's cut-back to Holt was nicked away at the last moment by John-Anthony Brooks as Holt shaped to shoot.

Holt was again involved a few minutes later when his intelligent run to the far post was spotted by Surman ,who picked him out with a beautiful cross from the left, only to see Kraft get fingertips to it to deny him a certain goal.

That was to be the last meaningful action of the half as City went into the break facing a two-goal deficit after Kachunga's quick-fire brace.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0, Hertha Berlin 2

It was a completely different City XI that took to the field for the second-half, with Declan Rudd in goal, and Steven Whitaker making his first appearance in a yellow shirt. Meanwhile Chris Martin partnered James Vaughan in attack.

City soon kicked into gear, and in the 49th minute as Anthony Pilkington found Vaughan, who beat the offside trap before placing his shot cooly between the 'keeper's legs to make it 2-1.

Hertha were gifted an opportunity to restore their two-goal lead just minutes later however when Daniel Ayala was judged to have bundled Kachunga over inside the box.

A penalty was awarded and the Hertha striker duly dusted himself down and confidently blasted his spot-kick down the middle to complete his hat-trick and put his side 3-1 ahead.

Ayala soon made amends for the penalty decision by setting up Vaughan for his and City's second just six minutes later though from Korey Smith's corner. The City youngster's deep cross was cushioned back across goal by Ayala, allowing the onrushing Vaughan to power home his header for 3-2.

Both sides then shared chances, with Vaughan within inches of turning Smith's powerful effort into the net at one end, whilst at the other, Hertha Berlin left-back Fabian Holland's rasping drive rose just over Rudd's goal.

Hoolahan then presented the excellent Vaughan with another chance to complete his hat-trick after an excellent cross from the right, however the striker couldn't direct his header on target in a crowded penalty area.

That was to be the last clear-cut chance City had to level, as the referee blew for full time after what was certainly a useful workout for the Canaries in their first game of pre-season.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2, Hertha Berlin 3

CITY- First-half: Ruddy, R. Martin, R. Bennett, Ward, Lappin, Howson, Johnson, E. Bennett, Surman, Jackson, Holt
Second-half: Rudd, Whittaker, Barnett, Ayala, Tierney, Crofts, Hoolahan, Smith, Pilkington, C. Martin, Vaughan

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