Johnson brace helps City to win in final friendlyBRADLEY Johnson scored twice as the Canaries wrapped up their pre-season schedule with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Panathinaikos on Saturday afternoon.
The central midfieder, recently returned from a knee injury, scored a header in each half to secure the victory in front of a crowd of 14,054 at Carrow Road.
There was a moment of worry in the second period for City, however, when Gary Hooper was stretchered off with an injury.
Chris Hughton had named summer signing Hooper in his starting eleven, with Wes Hoolahan playing just off the former Celtic man and Martin Olsson in a more advanced role on the left-hand side.
Goalkeeper John Ruddy, set for England duty against Scotland on Wednesday, also returned to the team against the Greek outfit, while new Team Captain Sebastien Bassong was presented with the Barry Butler Player of the Season Trophy for 2012-13 pitchside just before kick-off.
After the game got underway, Hooper’s first act was to win the Canaries a free-kick in a dangerous position on four minutes, and it led to the opening goal.
Robert Snodgrass, taker of so many decisive set-pieces last season, whipped in his cross from the touchline and Johnson rose above Stefanos Kapino in the Greeks’ goal to head the ball home.
It was the perfect start for the Canaries, and it gave them the momentum in the game as the visitors struggle to settle into any pattern of possession, even though Anastasios Lagos managed to slice a shot wide.
Russell Martin then latched onto Snodgrass’ backheel on 17 minutes as City looked for a second, and he found Hooper but the summer signing’s shot went across the goalmouth and wide.
Panathinaikos then went as close as you can to an equaliser – a corner into the box found Gordon Schildenfend and after his initial header was blocked on the line, Thanisis Nnitas managed to find the angle of the post and bar when he met the rebound.
City were monopolising the ball but the tempo of the match meant chances were limited, and half-time came with the Canaries still holding the one-goal advantage they earned very early in the half.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-0 Panathinaikos
Hughton made three changes at the break, with Snodgrass, Martin and Olsson – all of whom will be representing their countries midweek – being taken off for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer and Steven Whittaker.
There was then concern for City fans as Hooper had to be stretchered off ten minutes into the second period with what appeared to be a knee injury, with Elliott Bennett replacing him.
The home team doubled their lead on 59 minutes, though, and it was that man Johnson again.
The midfielder, who was putting in a dominant display in the middle of the park, was left unattended in the box as he rose to meet Javier Garrido’s cross, and his header into the net was emphatic.
Panathinaikos should have pulled one pack a couple of minutes later – Emir Bajrami did well to create some space on the right but Markus Berg’s flick was poor and it drifted wide. Substitute Elliott Bennett then forced a fine save from Kapino on 70 minutes when he drove from distance.
They were pressing to get back in the match but City’s defence was generally standing firm, and Nathan Redmond, on for Johnson late on, first fizzed a shot that Kapino parried and then teased a cross that van Wolfswinkel met but flicked wide.
City were always in control and as the final whistle blew, could reflect on a job well done ahead of the opening Premier League game against Everton on August 17.
FULL-TIME:Norwich City 2-0 Panathinaikos
GOALS: Norwich City – Bradley Johnson (4, 59)
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Martin (c) (Whittaker 45), Turner, R Bennett, Garrido; Snodgrass (Fer 45), Tettey, Johnson (Redmond 80), Olsson (van Wolfswinkel 45); Hoolahan; Hooper (E Bennett 57). Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Ayala, Howson, Butterfield, Becchio.
PANATHINAIKOS: Kapino; Koutroumpis (Triantafyllopoulos 63), Da Silva, Lagos, Bajrami (Mouzakitis 90), Marinakis (Spyropoulos 85), Kapelis (Berg 45), Abeid (Chouchoumis 74), Maroto, Schildenfend (Donis 78), Ntinas. Subs not used: Tampakis, Anastasopoulos.