City boss Daniel Farke was full of praise for his side after they went out of the Emirates FA Cup on penalties at Stamford Bridge.
Norwich’s committed performance was fully deserving of taking the Premier League champions all of the way, but they couldn’t quite get over the line in the penalty shoot-out.
“Chelsea had a strong squad and were really focussed,” he said. “We struggled in the first 20 minutes a bit, but we improved our game so much after that and we were on the same level as Chelsea.
“It was a brilliant performance and we were so close to a win and I can only praise the lads for this performance, and this togetherness and their attitude. I’m proud of the lads.”
Farke revealed there was real disappointment in the dressing room after the match.
“Several lads were sitting with tears in their eyes,” he said. “They are so disappointed they didn’t earn the win, but it’s important to feel this disappointment. I told the lads it’s important to remember how it feels when you don’t get what you deserve because there will be a time when we celebrate a special moment like this.
“There will be moments bigger than the third round of the FA Cup, and they’ll enjoy it even more when you have this disappointment in the back of your mind.”
Farke admitted he was surprised at Jamal Lewis’s brilliant 94th-minute header that sent the game into extra-time. “We always criticise him because he always has awful headers in training!” Farke joked. “But after every session our assistant coach Eddie Reimer trains with him on headers – and when you work hard you earn the benefit. It was unbelievable and the lads were laughing as much as they were celebrating!”
Norwich’s heroics means that there might be a few tired legs when it comes to the Sky Bet Championship match against Sheffield United on Saturday, and Farke has called on the fans to help lift the team.
“It doesn’t help to have this load for the Saturday game,” Farke says. “But if anyone wants a Head Coach who doesn’t pay attention to the FA Cup, then you’ll have to search for a different coach. As long as I’m responsible for this squad we will always try and create special moments in cup competitions.
“It will be hard on Saturday, but we will recover smartly and will be prepared for the next game and will give everything. We’ll need our fans so much, and they were brilliant again tonight. We want to go on with our unbeaten run – as I count this game as a draw! - and we want to go up the table.”