Norwich City Under-23s began their Premier League International Cup campaign with a 3-0 defeat.
Atheltic Bilbao had the most chances throughout the game and saw goals from Asier Villalibre (2) and Jon Rojo to deny City a win.
David Wright welcomed senior member Todd Cantwell into his starting eleven and involved Jordan Thomas, making it his first appearance since his injury last season. Billy Johnson also made his first Under-23s appearance as Jon McCracken’s replacement.
The visitors had the first chance of the night with a long pass from captain Inigo Vicente through to Villalibre but his low shot was blocked well by Timi Odusina. Shortly after, Gaizka Larrazabal found himself in a dangerous spot but his effort was saved by Johnson.
The Spanish team looked more dangerous whilst they moved the ball quickly on each counter attack but they found themselves unable to get through City’s defence.
A free-kick was rewarded to Bilbao on the edge of the box on 25 minutes. Vicente’s low powerful kick swerved past the City wall and rebounded to Javier Murua who then shot wide. However, Bilbao finally got their reward in the 29th minute from a shot by Villalibre which ended up in the bottom right hand corner.
Bilbao nearly went two goals up a few minutes later but Oier Zarraga couldn’t find the back of the net after his shot narrowly missed goal. Moments later, a clever pass was created by the visitors but City keeper did well to spread himself big to deflect another shot. City had a chance with 15 minutes to go in the first half but Josh Coley’s cross to Caleb Richards was shot across goal and resulted in Bilbao to get up the pitch to attack once more.
City were dominant in the last few minutes of the first half which saw Anthony Spyrou firing close range but his effort was saved by Bilbao’s keeper Ander Iruarrizaga, resulting in a corner that unfortunately didn’t create one last chance before the whistle.
Villalibre scored again with a clean finish from inside the box in the 47th minute after the ball saw deflections off strikes from Jon Rojo and Antonio Salado. City pressed shortly after with clever passes from the midfield which saw Spyrou with the best chance of the game but his close range shot hit a defender to deny him a goal.
Wright made two substitutions in the space of five minutes. Firstly, to replace Jordan Thomas with Bilal Kamal at right-back and brought Tom Scully on for Coley. Bilbao shortly after made their first sub of the night to replace Larrazabal for Juan Artola.
A loose ball falls to Rojo who smashed the ball in the back of the net, making it 3-0 to the visitors in the 75th minute.
The 80th minute saw two other subsitutions for both sides, replacing Adam Phillips and Oier Zarraga for Saul Milovanovic and Jon Cabo. Bilbao's captain Inigo Vicente was then shortly replaced by Jon Gurzeta.
The last part of the game saw Bilbao controlling the ball well but City were close in stoppage time to getting on the score sheet when Alfie Payne fired over.
City Starting XI: Johnson; Thomas (Kamal 63), Richards, Lomas, Odusina (c), Payne, Coley (Scully 70), Phillips (Milovanovic 80), Spyrou, Aransibia, Cantwell
Unused subs: Jones; Blair,