Norwich City moved back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship as goals from Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki gave the Canaries a 2-1 win over Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Head coach Daniel Farke made two changes to the starting line-up with Kenny McLean and Marco Stiepermann coming into the side for Mario Vrancic and Alex Tettey.
Norwich started the game brightly with Josh Martin almost threading a perfectly timed ball through to Marco Stiepermann in the box, but the offside flag went up against German midfielder.
Pukki then warmed the gloves Rafael Cabral Barbosa with a shot from the edge of the box on 10 minutes. Sixty seconds later and Norwich were in front as Andy Rinomhota, under pressure from Martin, played a pass right into the path of Buendia who accepted the early Christmas and birthday present to fire a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Reading, rather fortunately, got themselves back on level terms though three minutes later as Sone Alouko’s cross deflected into the feet of Ovie Ejaria. His strike then deflected off Michael Olise and then appeared to strike the arm of Alfa Somedo on its way into the back of the net but, despite appeals from Christoph Zimmermann, the referee ignored the claims for handball.
Norwich continued to press and created the better chances in the first half. It was Pukki who brought two good saves out of Cabral Barbosa from near post crosses by Max Aarons and Stiepermann.
Reading’s only other effort of note in the first half was an Olise shot, which this time, deflected off one of his own players and wide.
Farke made two changes at the break with Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell coming on for Marco Stiepermann and Josh Martin.
And it was Cantwell’s cross-field pass that created the opportunity for Norwich’s second goal as a superb touch inside from Aarons gave him a shooting chance, but he was brought down by a sliding challenge from Liam Moore. Pukki took the penalty and sent the shot down the middle for his 10th goal of the campaign.
Dowell then almost got a third for Norwich just before the 70-minute mark but, after picking up a pass from Pukki, his shot deflected off Moore and onto the post. Moore was then in the right place once more to block a Buendia shot from inside the area.
However, in stoppage time when Olise lined up a shot from free-kick 25 yards out, Norwich were indebted to a superb fingertip save from goalkeeper Michael McGovern to keep them in front and see them head back to Norfolk with a deserved three points.
Reading: Cabral Barbosa; Holmes (McIntyre, 79’), Morrison, Moore (c), Gibson; Rinomhota (Onen, 79’), Laurent, Ejaria, Semedo (Esteves, 67’), Olise; Aluko (Baldock, 58’).
Subs not used: Walker, Bristow, Watson, East, Melvin-Lambert.
Goals: Olise (14’)
Bookings: Onen (82’)
Red cards: None
Norwich City: McGovern; Aarons, Zimmermann (c), Hanley, Sorensen; Skipp, McLean, Buendia, Stiepermann (Dowell, 45’, Tettey, 91’), Martin (Cantwell, 45’); Pukki (Hugill, 88’).
Subs not used: Barden, Vrancic, Omobamidele, Omotoye
Goals: Buendia (11’), Pukki (55’)
Red cards: None
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Geoff Eltringham