Norwich City were denied a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium (AET).
City took the lead in the first half when Josh Murphy broke clear and finished expertly past Matt Macey and they had numerous chances to add to their advantage in the second half.
However, substitute Eddie Nketiah made a real impact from the bench, scoring with 82 minutes on the clock to send the game into extra-time and then just moments after the restart to put Arsenal into the next round.
There was just a 48-hour turnaround between Sunday’s East Anglian derby and Tuesday night’s clash so Daniel Farke decided to make four changes to his starting eleven. Nelson Oliveira was fit to start and he replaced Cameron Jerome up front with James Husband, Mario Vrancic and Murphy also coming into the side.
After both sides enjoyed periods in possession early on, it was City who had the first sight at goal. Murphy flicked a lovely ball through Reiss Nelson’s legs to find Vrancic who surged at the Gunners’ defence before firing just wide of Macey’s goal.
Arsenal threatened for the first time on 20 minutes when an in-swinging corner was met by a towering Rob Holding but Angus Gunn showed superb reflexes to tip the ball over from six yards.
City began to frustrate their opponents with their rigid defensive shape and they managed to grab the lead just after the half hour mark.
Tom Trybull did well to win the ball back from Alex Iwobi on the halfway line and it fell kindly for James Maddison who slotted a brilliant pass into the path of Murphy. The returning City winger showed great composure to scoop the ball over Macey and send the 8,800 Canary fans at the opposite end into raptures.
The Canaries could have easily doubled their lead shortly after. Murphy was brimming with confidence and cut the ball back from the left to Oliveira who bent the ball towards the far corner, only to be thwarted at full stretch by Macey.
The start of the second half followed the same pattern as the beginning of the first with both sides having their share of the ball and it was clear City weren’t intent on shutting up shop. On 56 minutes, Oliveira managed to knock the ball past Mohamed Elneny and he was through on goal before being tugged by the makeshift Arsenal centre-back, though somehow, referee Andy Madley only produced a yellow card.
City still looked to add to their advantage though, and moments later, Vrancic crossed for Murphy at the back post but his free header was smothered by Macey.
The home support were becoming increasingly frustrated at their side’s inability to break their opponents down and City had multiple chances to put the game beyond doubt, especially when Murphy and Vrancic both missed the target within minutes of each other.
Sadly for City, they were made to regret their missed opportunities with just under ten minutes to play. Substitute Nketiah made an instant impact, ghosting in unmarked from a corner and tapping past Gunn to equalise for Arsenal.
The match headed into extra-time and it was the hosts who took the lead just moments after the restart. It was almost a carbon copy of Arsenal’s equaliser as Nketiah won the ball from a corner steered past Gunn.
City kept plugging away and could have easily been awarded a penalty with just minutes left on the clock by Madley gave a goal kick after Husband appeared to have been fouled by Mathieu Debuchy.
It wasn’t to be for Farke’s men but they were given a rousing reception by the vociferous away support at the full-time whistle as their remarkable effort was recognised.