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30 July 2016

Wes Hoolahan nets brace in friendly defeat

A SECOND half rally from Norwich City saw them fall just short in their final pre-season friendly against Hannover 96, eventually going down 3-2 to their German counterparts at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Artur Sobiech and Sebastian Maier netted inside quarter of an hour for the visitors, before the former struck again shortly after the resumption of play in the second half.

From there, though, City reacted impressively with a much-improved performance as a stylish quick-fire double from Wes Hoolahan put them firmly back into the contest.

Although unable to find a third which would have taken them level, there remained plenty of positives to take into next weekend's Sky Bet Championship opener at Blackburn Rovers.

Alex Neil made a number of alterations from Tuesday night's win over Coventry City, with John Ruddy, Timm Klose, Alex Tettey, Steven Naismith and Cameron Jerome all being selected to start.

There was also a place in the XI for Jacob Murphy, the Academy graduate having impressed as a substitute against the Sky Blues, and he was involved early on as City began on the front foot.

Set free by Hoolahan's quickly-taken free-kick inside the opening minute, the winger squared for Jerome with the frontman's effort flying just off target.

Hannover responded, and went in front on five minutes when Sobiech was found in the area before converting low beyond Ruddy in the Canaries' goal.

They doubled their lead shortly after, Maier this time applying the decisive touch to fire home at the end of a break down the left flank.  

Neil opted to make his first change 19 minutes in, bringing on Graham Dorrans in place of Murphy to shore up his midfield options as Jonny Howson shifted to the right.

A more compact City gradually grew into the match, fashioning a pair of half-chances for Naismith but they were unable to make inroads into the deficit before the interval - where Neil elected to introduce Ivo Pinto in place of Steven Whittaker.

Hannover started strongly after the restart, and although they extended their lead to 3-0 through another Sobiech goal, Norwich hit back almost instantly courtesy of a composed Hoolahan finish on 51 minutes.

Meeting Dorrans' squared pass into the box, Hoolahan calmly dinked over goalkeeper Philipp Tschauner to get City up-and-running, before rounding Hannover's number one soon after to add a second.

Neil shuffled his pack in the closing stages to give minutes to his squad, with Harry Toffolo, James Maddison, Josh Murphy, Kyle Lafferty and Youssouf Mulumbu all coming off the bench as the away side successfully saw the game out to emerge victorious.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2-3 Hannover

GOALS: Canaries: Wes Hoolahan (51, 59) Hannover: Artur Sobiech (5, 50), Sebastian Maier (11). 

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker (Pinto, 46), Bennett, Klose, Olsson (Toffolo, 80); Jacob Murphy (Dorrans, 19 (Mulumbu, 85)), Howson (c), Tettey, Hoolahan (Maddison, 80); Naismith (Josh Murphy, 80); Jerome (Lafferty, 80). Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Bassong, Andreu.  

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