Norwich City lost 2-0 to Watford in the Premier League at Carrow Road on Friday night thanks to goals at the start of the first and second halves from Gerard Deulofeu and Andre Gray.
Despite an improved second half performance following the introduction of Todd Cantwell and Josip Drmic, the Canaries failed to surmount a comeback against ten men following the sending off of Christian Kabasele.
Daniel Farke didn't make any changes to the team that started against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, however there was a return to the bench for Mario Vrancic. His recovery from injury forced Moritz Leitner to sit out of the squad.
As for Watford, they made three changes, with Jose Holebas, Etienne Capoue and Will Hughes coming in for Adam Masina, Nathaniel Chalobah and Andre Gray respectively.
The first half could hardly have got off to a worse start for City, who conceded within the opening two minutes when Deulofeu dispossessed Emiliano Buendia inside his own half and ran through on goal before picking out the bottom left corner.
A Jose Holebas corner was headed over by Daryl Janmaat at the near post just moments later as the Hornets looked to capitalise further on their fast start.
Deulofeu looked dangerous again, pulling the ball back across goal inside the 13th minute, but there were no blue shirts on the end of it.
It wasn’t until the 17th minute when City first looked lively going forward, as Kenny McLean threaded Onel Hernandez down the left wing. The Cuban aimed to pick out Pukki with an enticing delivery, but Craig Cathcart was on hand to get rid.
A deep Buendia free-kick was then met by Alexander Tettey at the far post courtesy of Cathcart’s flick, but the City captain volleyed well wide. There were shouts for a penalty shortly thereafter as McLean went down inside the 18-yard-box, but Andre Marriner remained unmoved.
Marco Stiepermann gave the fans something to enjoy with some excellent footwork halfway through the first 45, nutmegging one Watford player before sliding the ball past another to send Hernandez through on goal. Foster narrowed the angle well, however, blocking the following shot before Kabasele did the same to get his body in the way of Teemu Pukki’s rebound.
Will Hughes had a chance to put Watford two up when he shot over the bar from close range, and Ricardo Pereyra looked even more likely when he beat Tettey to a loose ball on the 26th minute. Daniel Farke’s defence tracked back well though and mopped up the danger.
Watford were forced into making an early change when Pereyra had to come off for Andre Gray on the half hour mark.
City continued to keep the deficit at one as Ben Godfrey threw in a vital block on an early effort from Gray, before McLean nodded a Hernandez cross straight into Ben Foster’s hands.
Pukki played a nice one-two with Hernandez and laid it off to Buendia who shot well over the bar as the Canaries continued to push for a first-half equaliser.
Pukki had another couple of shots – a low driven effort and a right footed volley - comfortably saved by Foster on the brink of half-time, before Watford went into the break 1-0 up.
The second half didn’t start much better, Gray doubling the lead with 52 minutes played when he got on the end of Deulofeu’s cross with a delicate heel flick into the bottom left corner for 2-0.
City weren’t about to surrender though, and almost got a sight back in the game when Buendia burst down the right wing and switched the ball towards Hernandez. Watford cleared the danger and the resulting corner was volleyed over by Pukki.
In an effort to change City’s fortunes, Farke made a double change with half an hour remaining. Stiepermann and Buendia made way for Drmic and Cantwell respectively.
Cantwell immediately looked lively, twisting and turning in the final third before picking out McLean who sent it down the left to Jamal Lewis. The Norwich left-back looked up and smashed a strike towards the far corner, but Foster tipped it round the post.
Drmic showed similar intent when he single-handedly drew the sending off of Kabasele, chasing down a lost cause and being fouled off the ball by the Watford man as the visitors were reduced to ten men.
City woke up following those changes and had a few sighters at goal, McLean’s effort from distance being tipped over the bar by Foster in the 71st minute and Cantwell’s cross almost being poked in for an own goal by Janmaat.
There was a return to action for Vrancic with nine minutes to go as he replaced Lewis in the game’s dying embers.
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Tettey (C), Godfrey, Lewis (Vrancic 81’), Trybull, Buendia (Cantwell 61’), McLean, Stiepermann (Drmic 61’), Hernandez, Pukki
Subs not used: Fahrmann, Byram, Amadou, Srbeny
Bookings: Vrancic (86’)
Watford: Foster, Dawson, Kabasele, Cathcart, Janmaat, Capoue, Doucoure (C), Holebas (Masina 87’), Hughes, Deulofeu (Mariappa 70’), Pereyra (Gray 30')
Subs not used: Gomes, Deeney, Chalobah, Femenia
Goals: Deulofeu (2'), Gray (52’)
Bookings: Kabasele (48’, 65’), Hughes (69’)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Kick-off time: 8pm
Venue: Carrow Road
Today’s Golden Goal times were:
1st Goal: 01:17
2nd Goal: 51:25
Lucky Number 0883