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Match Reports

Mario Vrancic hits late winner in dominant performance against Birmingham City

20 October 2020

Norwich City recorded back-to-back wins in the Sky Bet Championship with a dominant display over Birmingham City at Carrow Road.

The Yellows had to wait until the 87th minute to break the deadlock when substitute Mario Vrancic swept home from just inside the area following a good pass from Adam Idah. 

However, it was a game that Norwich fully deserved the three points from as the Canaries had more than 70 per cent of the ball and 23 shots at Birmingham's goal. 

Daniel Farke made two changes from the side that beat Rotherham last time out as Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki came in for Idah and Marco Stiepermann.

The Canaries dominated the first half, having over 75 per cent of possession and 13 shots at goal to Birmingham’s four. Jordan Hugill was first to go close as he picked the pocket of George Friend in the area, as the former Exeter man tried to shepherded the ball out of play, but he could only drag his shot wide of the near post.

Oliver Skipp then broke the lines superbly to pick up a pass in an advanced area but his low cross was slightly behind Emi Buendia who could on direct a header of target.

Ivan Sunjic had a rare effort at goal for Birmingham, which went over the top on 17 minutes, before Pukki met a low cross from Xavi Quintilla only to see his effort blocked by Friend.

Lukas Rupp then warmed the gloves of Neil Etheridge with a shot from 20 yards out before having another drilled effort, which looked destined for the bottom corner, blocked by Ivan Sanchez.

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However, Norwich’s best chances of the first half fell to Cantwell in the closing minutes as he first hit a Pukki pass wide of the mark from 12 yards before then stealing the ball high up off Jonathan Leko and racing in on goal to bring a good save out of Etheridge.

The second half was only a minute old when Hugill picked up a pass from Buendia on the edge of the box and curled a shot just over. Hugill then turned provider for Pukki but his shot, at angle, was comfortably held by Etheridge.

Cantwell then continued his superbly display, having been recalled to the starting XI, as he got the ball in the back of the net on 62 minutes but his effort was ruled out for offside. Three minutes later he was at the heart of the action again as he linked up with Buendia well to work the ball wide for Quintilla to cross into the box, but then Cantwell fire a first-time effort just wide.

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Then with 13 minutes left Grant Hanley headed just off target from a corner as it appeared Birmingham's stubborn resistance might see them grab a point. However, Farke made some good changes from the bench and then, with five minutes of normal time remaining, the match swung even more in Norwich’s favour when some neat footwork from Cantwell invited a late challenge from Adam Clayton, who having already been booked, was given his marching orders.

Sixty-four seconds later Norwich had the ball in the back of the net as Rupp knicked back possession to allow Buendia to feed a pass into Idah, whose quick lay-off into fellow substitute Vrancic allowed him to sweep a first-time shot into the corner of the net and give the Canaries the three points the performance deserved. 

Norwich City: Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Quintilla; Cantwell, Skipp (Vrancic, 80), Pukki (Placheta, 84), Rupp, Buendia; Hugill (Idah, 68) 

Subs not used: McGovern, McLean, Martin, Tettey. 

Booked: Idah (89)

Goal: Vrancic (87)

Birmingham City: Etheridge; Colin, Friend, Dean, Roberts (San Jose, 90); Pederson, Sunjic, Clayton, Leko (Bela, 54), Sanchez; Hogan.

Subs not used: Prieto, Dacres-Cogley, Boyd-Munce, Gardner, San Jose, McGree.

Booked: Clayton (50), Dean (53), Friend (86), Sunjic (90)

Red: Clayton (86)


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