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14 January 2014

City out of FA Cup after replay defeat

NORWICH City were knocked out of the FA Cup after being comfortably beaten 3-0 by Fulham in their Third Round replay at Craven Cottage.

Darren Bent slotted home before Ashkan Dejagah's close-range finish as the hosts took a two-goal lead into the half-time break.

Steve Sidwell's towering header secured a Fourth Round tie away to Sheffield United for Rene Meulensteen's side.

City's two best chances came in the first three minutes through Nathan Redmond and Robert Snodgrass, but in truth it was a thoroughly merited win for their opponents.

Six changes were made to the Canaries’ team before kick-off, with returns to the starting eleven for David Fox, Josh Murphy and Johan Elmander among others.

Maarten Stekelenburg and Brede Hangeland returned from long-term injuries for the hosts, while former Ipswich Town forward Bent – scorer of the Cottagers’ goal in the initial tie – started in attack.

City were rapid out of the blocks, and on three minutes went close with two chances in quick succession – firstly Murphy rode two challenges before sliding in Redmond, whose low drive was kept out by Stekelenburg.

The ball then found its way to Snodgrass 25 yards from goal, and the winger unleashed a left-footed curling shot that was out of reach of Fulham’s ‘keeper but which cannoned back off the crossbar.

Mark Bunn made his first stop on 11 minutes from Steve Sidwell’s speculative long-range effort, however, and Fulham took the lead six minutes on.

Pajtim Kasami raced to the byline and pulled a cross back for Bent, and the striker’s finish was instinctive, even if it took a slight deflection on its way past the City’s stopper.

Sascha Riether drilled wide as a buoyed home team pressed for a second goal, but Bunn was able to comfortably keep out Alex Kacaniklic’s weak shot.

Unfortunately he had no chance for Fulham’s second on 41 minutes – Giorgos Karagounis played in Kacaniklic, who just beat the offside trap to square to Dejagah, with the Iranian smashing high into the net from inside the six-yard box.

Bradley Johnson harmlessly nodded over Snodgrass’ corner as the half drew a close, and the whistle went with City contemplating how to turn around a two-goal deficit.

HALF-TIME: Fulham 2-0 Norwich City

Ricky van Wolfswinkel was introduced for Redmond at the break and again City were the better team at the start of the half, but Sebastien Bassong headed straight at Stekelenburg from Snodgrass’ free-kick.

However, once again they didn’t capitalise and Fulham put the game to bed bed on 68 minutes.

Riether was allowed too much time on the right-hand side, and he picked out Sidwell at the back post, who rose above Fox to power a header past Mark Bunn.

Van Wolfswinkel’s half-volley saw City almost pull one back moments after, with Snodgrass’ effort from the rebound eventually being held by Stekelenburg.

Kacaniklic beat both Steven Whittaker and Russell Martin before keeping Bunn on his toes with a low shot, while up the other end van Wolfswinkel harmlessly nodded Fox’s set-piece wide.

FULL-TIME: Fulham 3-0 Norwich City

GOALS: Cottagers: Darren Bent (17), Ashkan Dejagah (41), Steve Sidwell (68)

FULHAM: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland (c), Burn, Richardson; Karagounis, Sidwell (Vigen Christensen 85); Dejagah, Kasami, Kacaniklic (Tankovic 87); Bent (Dembele 80). Subs not used: Stockdale (GK), Hughes, Rodallega, Dempsey.

NORWICH CITY: Bunn; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong (c), Garrido; Fox, Johnson, Snodgrass; Redmond (van Wolfswinkel 45), Josh Murphy, Elmander (Becchio 69). Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Fer, Hoolahan, R Bennett, Jacob Murphy.

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