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6 September 2016

Pritchard impresses on comeback from injury

ALEX Pritchard was one of a number of senior players who helped City's Under-23s beat Valencia Mestalla 2-0 in their opening Premier League International Cup match at Carrow Road.

The ex-Tottenham man - missing through injury since the first weekend of the season - shone in his 45-minute run-out, expertly setting up Carlton Morris for the Canaries' opener 15 minutes in.

Antonio Latorre's own goal soon after put Dmitri Halajko's strong side in control, and they held off a much-improved Valencia team in the second half - with goalkeeper Paul Jones in fine form - to notch the three points.

Graham Dorrans, returning from his own injury setback, and Sebastien Bassong were among the other senior pros who got minutes under their belts as Alex Neil utilised the four over-age players rule in the competition.

Pritchard had the first shot on target after seven minutes when he benefitted from Sergi Canos' strong run, forcing a save from Ferran Ferri in Valencia's goal.

The number 10 was the driving force behind Morris' opener on the quarter hour as he spun away from a challenge, making space to play a perfectly weighted through ball which City's young forward chipped sublimely over Ferri.

Valencia were looking to keep the ball with a high line but City were catching them on the counter-attack, and Pritchard flashed a free-kick just inches wide midway through the half.

The second goal on 28 minutes was down to the persistence of Josh Murphy, who wrestled possession from Marcos Morales before a firing a powerful low cross into the area - one that Latorre could only turn into his own net.

Pritchard and Dorrans were withdrawn at the break, but City had the ball in the net within three minutes of the second half starting - only for Michael Turner's effort to be ruled out for offside.

Valencia responded excellently, with both Jordi Sanchez and Ignacio Gil de Pareja going close and Paul Jones being called into action to then deny Sanchez and Ivan Cifuentes.

Jones sprawled to tip Sanchez's header over the bar one-handed, but it was a goal Los Che really needed to really inject momentum into any comeback and time was running out.

With ten minutes left on the clock, substitute Ebou Adams was stopped from adding a third for the Canaries after an impressive low stop from Ferri, before the 'keeper then kept out a similar effort from Bassong.

City closed out the rest of the contest - despite Valencia hitting the post in stoppage time - with their next assignment in the continental competition against Celtic at Carrow Road in November.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 2-0 Valencia Mestalla

GOALS: Canaries: Carlton Morris (15), Antonio Latorre o.g. (28)

TEAM: Jones; Godfrey, Turner, Bassong (c), Efete; Dorrans (Adams 45), Thompson; Canos (Jaiyesimi 84), Pritchard (Grant 45), Jo. Murphy; Morris. Subs not used: Ashley-Seal, Hallett (GK), Ramsay, Sambu.

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