Norwich City 1, Real Zaragoza 1: Norwich City proved more than a match for Spanish top flight side Real Zaragoza in a fractious friendly at a rain-lashed Carrow Road.

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City’s pre-season preparations stepped up numerous gears in an eventful encounter, which included a brief second half stoppage after a lightning strike plunged the stadium into semi-darkness.

Ritchie De Laet opened his account for the club in the first half but Braulio pulled the Primera Liga visitors level seconds before the interval.

Anthony Pilkington made his first appearance since arriving from Huddersfield in a second half cameo after stepping up his return from the long term ankle injury that cut short his campaign last season.

John Ruddy, Russell Martin and De Laet were retained in the backline from the weekend win at Coventry with skipper Grant Holt leading the attack.

David Fox returned at the base of the midfield diamond after sitting out the Ricoh heatwave with Wes Hoolahan in his now customary attacking pivot role at the point.

Zaragoza deployed three centre backs to match up alongside Holt and Steve Morison with Juan Carlos operating in a lone frontman role.

Zaragoza keeper Toni Doblas had to claw away Bradley Johnson’s flick header inside the opening two minutes with City looking for another quick start from Kyle Naughton’s inviting cross.

Pinter then tested Ruddy in a sharp counter-attack before the big stopper kicked away Abraham’s follow up.

Morison escaped the attentions of the Spanish defence momentarily but his flick was headed behind with the early tempo a marked contrast to last week’s Football League tests in the slippery conditions.

De Laet reacted quickest to Holt’s knockdown six yards out to nudge Norwich in front on 15 minutes from Fox’s initial free kick.

Referee Neil Swarbrick then had to dish out lectures to first Braulio and Zaragoza coach Javier Aguirre with the Spaniards’ clearly treating the contest as anything but friendly.

The former Mexican international boss was threatened with the stands for continuing his protests at the front of the technical area as Paul Lambert watched on a few feet away.

Juarez was then yellow-carded for apparent dissent after another minor altercation between players from both sides in the centre circle.

Morison looked a constant threat in the opening 30 minutes with Zaragoza struggling to nullify the Welsh international’s aerial power – Mateos complaining to the official after coming off second best in another near miss.

The hosts’ were quick to press in a bid to break up the Spainards’ patient passing routines, with playmaker Ponzio only offering a sporadic threat to Ruddy’s goal. Holt hammered into the side netting on 39 minutes under intense pressure from Mateos with City looking potent at set pieces.

Juan Carlos tricked his way past Naughton but Barnett was well positioned to stab clear.

Braulio lashed Zaragoza level in torrential rain at the back post on 44 minutes after Ruddy failed to deal with the greasy ball – Holt involved in another minor spat as the Spainards celebrated.

Zaragoza made five changes at the break but tellingly there were none from Lambert as he strived to settle on a starting line-up for the Wigan kick off.

Fox’s vicious free-kick was well grasped by Toni before Barnett’s innocuous tug on the keeper sparked another minor flashpoint.

Ruddy parried Lafita’s dipping strike at the opposite end when football broke out again with the rain falling unabated.

The stadium was plunged into temporary darkness after a lightning strike cut the power to two sets of floodlights just past the hour mark –referee Swarbrick taking the players off the pitch.

City substiute Marc Tierney treated the home fans to an impromptu acrobatic display during the ten minute break in play with a brief reprise of his somersault celebrations from the club’s Championship promotion party against Coventry.

Juan Carlos’ inviting cross slithered behind on the restart in his last act of the contest before making way along with a trio of home substitutions – headlined by Pilkington’s first action in a Norwich shirt since his close season move.

Tierney’s arrival for Martin prompted a change of flanks for Naughton with Jackson replacing Holt alongside Morison.

Lafita’s free-kick clipped the Norwich wall before Uche created a sliver of space with excellent movement inside the City box but Ruddy stood firm.

Morison forced Toni to claw behind but then left the action shortly afterwards after pulling up following a heavy challenge from Paredes.

Toni superbly got down low to his right to foil Jackson who powerfully met Naughton’s precise cross in a strong finish from Lambert’s side.

• Norwich City: Ruddy, R Martin (Tierney, 71), De Laet, Barnett, Naughton, B Johnson (Pilkington, 71), Fox, Bennett, Hoolahan, Holt (Jackson, 71), Morison (Wilbraham, 82). Subs (not used): Rudd, Drury, Whitbread, Surman, K Smith, Lappin, Francomb.

Goal: De Laet (15)

• Real Zaragoza: Toni, Juarez, Paredes (Laguardia, 45), Lanzaro (Contini, 45), Juan Carlos (Orti, 71), Mateos, Braulio (Uche, 45), Edu Oriol (Lafita, 45), Abraham (Obradovic, 45), Pinter, Ponzio. Subs (not used): Goni, Leo Franco, Joel, Kevin, Alcolea.

Booking: Juarez

Goal: Braulio (44)

• Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancs)

• Attendance: 10,825

5 comments

  • Sorry, but Ruddy still can't catch a ball and is going to be the achilles heel, I think he must put vasaline on his gloves before each game. I've never seen a keeper drop so many balls. Lambert is the expert so must see something I can't.

    Report this comment

    goldie

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

  • Yes, lambert & the rest of us do see something in Ruddy. Clearly the fact he was an integral part of last years promotion campaign isn't enough for you and he should be keeping clean sheet every game?? No doubt you're one of those people who phone in to Canary Call every game, going 'Or ryt neeeaaalll...., complaining about Jackson, or moaning that we haven't won 15-0???

    Report this comment

    NorthCity

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

  • The problem with Ruddy is that he does not instill the same confidence as Fraser Forster did and we only have Rudd to keep him honest.May need an experienced keeper in January but hope i'm wrong.

    Report this comment

    Sherbert

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

  • those injuries keep coming. the spaniards didn`t seem too friendly.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

  • Sorry North City you are out numbered, may I suggest specsavers,but don't get the rose coloured ones

    Report this comment

    goldie

    Friday, August 5, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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