City booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup with a 3-1 win over Stevenage at Carrow Road.
Marco Stiepermann’s header was cancelled out by a James Ball free-kick before half-time, and Norwich were made to wait until they clicked into gear in the final 25 minutes. Christoph Zimmermann bundled the ball home from an 83rd-minute corner to give Norwich the lead again before substitute Teemu Pukki made it three moments later with a crisp finish as the Canaries finished strongly.
Daniel Farke handed debuts to both full-backs Felix Passlack and Max Aarons as he named a young starting XI. There was also a first Canaries start for Todd Cantwell as Norwich lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Moritz Leitner took his place on the right with Cantwell on the left, and Louis Thompson and Stiepermann ahead of Tom Trybull in the centre of the park. Dennis Srbeny started up top, while Ben Godfrey and captain Zimmermann formed a new-look centre-back pairing ahead of Michael McGovern in goal.
The opening 15 minutes saw City – who were attacking the Barclay – looking to move the ball quickly, but Stevenage were disciplined and Norwich struggled to make their possession count.
The first real chance of the game came in the 18th minute after another spell of possession for City. Leitner found himself in space 30 yards out, dummied to shoot and sent a lovely ball towards the centre spot, but Stiepermann – who had lost his marker – headed over with his back to goal.
City made their pressure count in the 27th minute with a cute goal. Cantwell took a quick corner to Leitner, who had cleverly lost his marker in the box, and he clipped a ball to the back post where Stiepermann headed in unmarked from five yards.
Three minutes later and the busy Alex Revell found a space on the right of the box and flashed a shot wide of the far post, but McGovern was comfortable letting it go. A minute later and Stevenage had their first shot on target, as Ball hit a 25-yard free-kick straight at McGovern, who gathered comfortably.
Zimmermann picked up a yellow card with a last-ditch lunge on Ball on the edge of the area with six minutes of the half remaining, and Stevenage punished the Canaries. Ball got back up to take the free-kick and wrapped it in off the far post to equalise.
That was the final chance of the half, with the scores level at the break – a fair reflection of an even 45 minutes.
Daniel Farke made a change for the second half, with Kenny McLean replacing Trybull after he picked up a knock.
After five minutes of the second half Dino Maamria made his first change, with James Ferry coming on for Alex Reid.
Passlack went into the book on 58 minutes for protesting after he was pulled up for a nudge on Kurtis Guthrie, and in truth that was the most notable moment of the opening stages of the second half.
On 60 minutes Norwich stepped up the urgency. First Leitner chipped a neat ball through to Cantwell on the left of the area, but Stevenage hustled it away. Moments later Stiepermann found McLean in space on the right, but he was closed down as he burst into the box.
Maamria reacted to City’s pressure by replacing goalscorer Ball with Donovan Makoma.
City should have taken the lead on 63 minutes when Leitner drove forward from the halfway line and slipped in Srbeny on the left, but he sliced his effort wide of the post.
That was Leitner’s last action of the night, as Farke introduced Onel Hernandez in his place.
Norwich had another glorious chance shortly afterwards. Passlack – bouncing off a challenge from Guthrie – spotted McLean’s run into space on the right and played him through, but McLean’s effort was well saved by Seny Timothy Deng. Guthrie was booked for his challenge on Passlack.
Hernandez got on in the action, beating his man on the left and floating over an inviting cross which Dieng did well to gather.
With 12 minutes remaining, Farke made his final change with Pukki replacing Cantwell. He immediately got on in the action, plucking a long ball out of the air brilliantly and squaring it to Srbeny, but his 12-yard shot was well saved by the advancing Dieng.
Norwich’s dominance paid off with another goal from a corner in the 83rd minute. McLean delivered it to the to the near post and in the ensuing scramble the ball struck Zimmermann on the heel and it trickled past Dieng to give City the lead.
Maamria made a final change immediately, replacing Michael Timlin with Emmanuel Sonupe.
With two minutes remaining Hernandez almost increased City’s lead when his driven shot from the left was tipped wide of the post by Dieng.
A minute later and Dieng could do nothing about City’s next effort on goal. Pukki picked up a loose ball on the right of the area and clinically drove it into the bottom corner.
City almost made it four a minute later. Pukki’s square ball in the area found McLean, but his shot from six yards was brilliantly saved by Dieng.
That was the final action of the match, with City ending strongly after a slow first 60 minutes to book their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup.