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Match Reports

Vrancic double seals City win

19 September 2017

City brushed aside Brentford at Griffin Park to book a place in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.

A double from Mario Vrancic – a penalty and a sumptuous free-kick – and a strike from Josh Murphy sealed City’s third win in four matches, before Josh Clarke pulled an injury time goal back for Brentford. 

Daniel Farke made five changes from Saturday's win over Sheffield United. James Husband started in place of Marco Stiepermann at left-back while Harrison Reed replaced Alex Tettey in central midfield. Vrancic and Wes Hoolahan came in for James Maddison and Yanic Wildschut, while Marley Watkins got the nod up front. On the bench, midfielder Adam Phillips' impressive displays for the U23s earned him a first senior call-up.

Brentford also made seven changes to their starting line-up from the weekend. While they are winless in the league, they completed an impressive 4-1 win over QPR in the second round of the Cup.

An even opening 10 minutes burst into life when Watkins was sent clean through on the left. Josh McEachran’s nudge sent Watkins to the floor, and the referee pointed to the spot. Vrancic coolly sent Luke Daniels the wrong way – rolling it into the corner – to open his City account and give Norwich a 10th-minute lead.

The early goal gave City real impetus, and Murphy went close with a dipping drive from 25 yards before Watkins stung the hands of Daniels from outside the area. On 20 mintues Vrancic sent a low free-kick an inch wide of Daniels' left post with the keeper beaten.

Five minutes later Watkins went close, when Hoolahan picked up Vrancic’s short corner and chipped it into the box, but Watkins’ header was straight at Daniels.

Brentford were having some joy down City’s right, and a quick break from Illias Chatzitheodoridis had City retreating quickly, and the ball across found Neal Maupay just outside the area but his effort was straight at Gunn, who saved comfortably.

On 30 minutes Brentford had the perfect opportunity to level as Hoolahan was adjudged to have fouled Kamohelo Mokotjo in the area, but Yoann Barbet blasted the penalty well over Gunn’s crossbar.

City did well to withstand some late Brentford pressure – with Christoph Zimmermann and Harrison Reed particularly impressive as Norwich went into the break with a one-goal lead.

Norwich went close twice straight after the restart, with Murphy the driving force. First he got to the byline after neat work from Hoolahan, but his inviting drive across the six-yard box just evaded the advancing Watkins. Moments later a mix-up at the back allowed Murphy room on the edge of the box and he drove centimetres wide with Daniels beaten.

City’s pressure counted in the 51st minute when Hoolahan was fouled on the edge of the box. Vrancic stepped up to sweetly lift the ball over the ball and down into the bottom left corner to double City’s lead.

On 57 minutes Barbet curled a 25-yard free-kick towards the top corner but it lacked power and Gunn collected comfortably before setting City on a swift break. Confusion in the Brentford area saw their backline scatter, and Reed almost took advantage but he sent a powerful drive just wide.

With City dominating, Brentford almost conjured something out nothing on 66 minutes when substitute Justin Shaibu cut in from the left and sent a thumping shot goalwards, but with Gunn beaten the post came to Norwich’s rescue.

City took advantage of the let-off a minute later. Tom Trybull threaded a beautiful 20-yard ball from inside his own half through to the advancing Murphy, who held off his man and chipped the ball over the advancing Daniels to make it 3-0.

Trybull departed soon after, to be replaced by Marco Stiepermann, while Yanic Wildschut was introduced at the expense of goalscorer Murphy.

Vrancic, looking for his hattrick, tested Daniels again from outside the area on 78 minutes, but the keeper was all the way behind the right-foot drive.

Farke made his final change of the night in the final 10 minutes, with Marcel Franke replacing Timm Klose at centre-back.

Brentford pulled a goal back in stoppage time, Josh Clarke taking advantage of a loose ball in the penalty area as City were hoping for a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Vrancic still had time to almost complete his hattrick, but with the last kick of the game he poked just wide from a tight angle. 

It was a professional display from City, and the Canaries will find out who they'll face in the last 16 when the draw is made tomorrow evening live on Sky. 

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