Norwich City were edged out 4-3 by West Bromwich Albion in their first home match of the 2018-19 season.
The teams were tied at 1-1 at the interval after Jordan Rhodes bagged his first for the Canaries only to have it cancelled out by Jay Rodriguez's penalty. Rhodes missed a spot kick of his own as the game edged towards half-time.
Albion then stormed to a two-goal cushion through Rodriguez's second and Harvey Barnes' neat finish. City responded through Teemu Pukki's first goal for the club but substitute Hal Robson-Kanu volleyed home to make it 4-2.
Grant Hanley kept the Canaries in the match with a superb header but it wasn't enough.
Daniel Farke made three changes to the side which fought back to draw 2-2 at Birmingham City last Saturday. Ivo Pinto made his return from injury in place of James Husband and Kenny McLean came in for his first City start in place of Tom Trybull. The other change saw Moritz Leitner deputise for Marco Stiepermann who dropped to the bench.
City were much the better side in the opening exchanges with Hernandez, last weekend’s hero, and the returning Pinto, in an unfamiliar left-back role, going close with long-range efforts.
Albion were kept quiet during that spell but Kieran Gibbs almost grabbed them the lead against the run of play on 21 minutes. He was invited to shoot on the edge of the box and his deflected had to be punched away by Tim Krul.
A goal was the only thing missing from City’s start and they managed to grab one midway through the first-half. Pukki managed to retrieve Hernandez’s cross at the back post and Rhodes then reacted quickest to plant the ball into the roof of net for his first goal in City colours.
Leitner immediately went close to doubling City’s lead moments later when he struck over from the edge of the box.
However, a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Albion a route back into the match. Ben Marshall misjudged a cross from the right and Gayle controlled before being bundled over by Krul – up stepped Rodriguez to send the City stopper the wrong way and equalise.
City didn’t let the setback half their offensive mindset though and they too were awarded a penalty on 37 minutes. Hernandez was fouled in the area but this time, Rhodes couldn’t add to his tally with Johnstone equal to his spot-kick.
The second-half got off to a bad start for the Canaries though as Rodriguez took aim from range. His swerving strike was too difficult for Krul to handle and the ball nestled into the far corner to give Albion the lead.
City almost responded when Rhodes connected with a Pukki cutback but Johnstone got down well to keep the ball out.
Albion were much improved in the second half and managed to extend their advantage on 65 minutes. Matt Phillips managed to keep the ball in on the right and his cutback was finished well by Barnes to make it 3-1.
The pendulum then swung back into City's favour. Hernandez's tenacity saw him win the ball back off Allan Nyom and his cross was slammed home by Pukki. But then it was the visitor's turn to add to their tally. Ahmed Hegazi was left unmarked at the back post following a corner and substitute Robson-Kanu volleyed home to make it 4-2.
City didn't give up the fight though. Grant Hanley emphatically headed Hernandez's cross home to give the home support hope but it wasn't enough as Albion took the points in a 4-3 thriller.