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Match Reports

Pukki nets only goal in City's win over Rotherham

20 February 2021

A first-half Teemu Pukki strike saw Norwich City grind out a 1-0 victory over Rotherham United on Saturday.

Pukki delivered the decisive blow on 17 minutes after Emi Buendia's brilliant pass was dummied by Todd Cantwell, allowing City's leading marksman to calmly finish past the goalkeeper.

In reality, the scoreline should have been much more comfortable, with City threatening on a host of occasions throughout the match but, nevertheless, Pukki's goal was enough to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship.

City were forced into one change from their midweek win over Coventry City with Christoph Zimmermann replacing Ben Gibson in the centre of defence – Gibson made way because of a minor back issue. Around 30 minutes prior the kick-off, it was confirmed that Andrew Omobamidele would replace Gibson on the substitute’s bench.

A positive early start from the Canaries brought an instant opportunity inside four minutes. The ball was moved inside from the right and into Mario Vrancic who sent a low drive just wide of goal from the edge of the box.

On eight minutes, City should have been ahead. A flowing move involving Vrancic, Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki so the latter played clear but an uncharacteristic weak effort from the Finn saw the shot easily saved by Viktor Johansson in the Millers goal.

Another chance presented itself on 10 minutes as Pukki breezed past Angus MacDonald on the left and played the ball inside to Vrancic who once again shot wide from just inside the area.

Rotherham then had the ball in the net, as they showed their threat from set-pieces, after a corner was nodded in from close range but referee Tony Harrington spotted an infringement and awarded City a free-kick.

City’s dominance in the opening 20 minutes was rightly rewarded when Buendia diverted a sumptuous pass into the path of Pukki who raced clear and slotted pass Johansson for the opening goal.

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A quiet spell followed in the match with Rotherham’s relentless pressing forcing City to work hard for their chances. But, as City were patient, the opportunities kept coming. Vrancic squared for Buendia on 39 minutes but his strike was blocked on the goalline by a Rotherham defender.

There was danger for City at the start of the second-half. A corner was headed clear by Max Aarons but only as far as Ben Wiles on the edge of the area and he sent a stinging half-volley against the woodwork.

The quick start by the visitors was halted by City's possession game as they wrestled control back in the match and began to look for a second goal. Buendia played a delicious pass from the left to the edge of the area but an under pressure Cantwell could only screw an effort wide.

There was a scare for both sides just before the hour make when a rash challenge from Rotherham captain Michael Ihiekwe sent Buendia flying. Ihiekwe escaped with a booking and luckily for City, Buendia was fit to continue.

McLean then met a dangerous corner from Buendia at the near post but Ihiekwe was there to block the ball on the line with the ball destined for the net.

The chances continued to go begging for City. On 70 minutes, a lofted ball over the defence by McLean saw Rotherham caught completely off guard. Pukki was clear but shot straight at Johansson from the left side of the area.

Straight at the other end, Rotherham had a brilliant chance to level. Substitute Freddie Ladapo drove into the area and cut back to Matt Crooks whose effort was blocked superbly for Aarons.

With the introduction of Ladapo giving the Millers fresh impetus, City had to be wary of the Millers new threat up top. However, that didn't stop from creating and Pukki was found in the box once again but he sent he shot wide on 82 minutes after a lofted pass from Cantwell.

Rotherham enjoyed their moments in the closing stages but struggled to create anything to threaten Tim Krul and it was the Canaries who took the points.

Norwich City: Krul (GK), Aarons, Hanley (c), Zimmermann, Vrancic (Tettey, 90+6), Cantwell (Rupp, 90), Buendia, Skipp, Pukki (Idah, 90+4), McLean, Giannoulis
Subs not used: Barden (GK), Dowell, Quintilla, Sorensen, Hernandez, Gibson, 
Goals: Pukki (17)
Bookings: 

Rotherham United: Johansson (GK), Wing, Wiles, Robertson, Harding (Jozefzoon, 84), Ihiekwe (c), A. MacDonald (Olosunde, 46), Smith (Hirst, 67), Crooks (Sadlier, 76), Barlaser (Ladapo, 67), Giles
Subs not used:
Blackman (GK), S. MacDonald, Wood, Clarke
Goals:
Bookings: Ihiekwe (58)

HT: 1-0
Venue: Carrow Road
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: None


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