Norwich City produced some sublime attacking football to notch a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium.
City romped to a three-goal lead in the first-half as they tore through Bolton’s back four on countless occasions.
Teemu Pukki got the ball rolling on eight minutes with a sensational turn and finish inside the area. Marco Stiepermann doubled the lead midway through the half with a low drive and Emi Buendia compounded Bolton’s misery with a neat finish on 34 minutes.
Pukki added made it a double on the day early in the second-half with a superb, lobbed strike and it should have made it five but Kenny McLean had a spot-kick saved on 64 minutes.
Nonetheless, it was a comfortable victory for the Canaries and the scoreline marked the fourth time they've hit four goals in a single game this season, not to forget adding another clean sheet to their collection.
Daniel Farke was forced into one change from the Preston defeat on Wednesday, with Alex Tettey missing out through injury – McLean came in to replace him for his first league start since August. There were also welcome returns for Moritz Leitner and Timm Klose who made up the substitutes’ bench.
Bolton started well, pumping plenty of aerial balls into the final third, but it was City who went closest to scoring in the opening five minutes. Onel Hernandez surged forward and laid the ball back to Buendia but his curling effort was saved spectacularly by former Canaries goalkeeper Remi Matthews.
After the disappointment of the slow start at Preston, City turned the tables and grabbed the lead inside eight minutes. They worked the ball well down the left-hand side and eventually worked the ball in-field to Marco Stiepermann. His pinpoint through ball was latched upon by Pukki, who cut inside and fired the ball past Matthews.
It could have been two moments later when Ben Godfrey surged forward from the back and moved the ball wide to Pukki. He laid it on a plate for Buendia in the box but the City playmaker got underneath his strike and it flew over.
After a period of patient possession from City, they doubled their advantage midway through the first 45 with a terrific team move. Max Aarons, Tom Trybull and McLean worked the ball nicely on the right, with Trybull eventually feeding Aarons in an advanced position. His through pass found Pukki who cut back to Stiepermann to drill the ball home.
On 28 minutes, Hernandez was found by a looping Aarons pass but Matthews was equal to the attempted lob. Shortly after, Hernandez tried to cut the ball back to Pukki but it was just behind the City striker and Bolton managed to clear.
Bolton only tested Tim Krul once in the first-half and even that was a tame effort from Pawel Olkowski on 34 minutes which was straight at the City stopper.
Things were made worse for the hosts a minute later when McLean split open their defence with an accurate, lofted pass to find Buendia and he guided the ball past Matthews and make it three.
City were dominant and continued to search for more – Matthews thwarted powerful strikes from Hernandez and then Stiepermann close to half-time.
Bolton upped their intensity in the opening second-half minutes following introduction of Sammy Ameobi and Joe Williams, however the changes reaped zero benefits whatsoever.
Instead it was City who set about adding more to their advantage. Trybull stole the ball in midfield on 52 minutes and sent Hernandez clear on the left but Matthews produced a smart save with his feet to deny the winger. Shortly after, Pukki brilliantly broke the offside trap and raced clear, but again Matthews equal to his low finish.
Pukki wasn’t to be denied again on 56 minutes when he, once again, stayed onside and lobbed Matthews to give the 1,500-strong away support more to cheer about.
Pukki was fouled in the box by Mark Beevers on 63 minutes and McLean stepped up to take the penalty, however Matthews saved with his feet to keep the advantage at four.
Defending a clean sheet was the aim in the second-half and City defended resolutely, particularly on 70 minutes when Christoph Zimmermann intervened to block a goalbound Jason Lowe effort.
With City cruising to victory, that allowed Farke to introduce Leitner for his first minutes since the victory over Blackburn Rovers on December 22.