Norwich City 3-2 Hull City: Canaries move back top of the Championship after tense Tigers' win
Norwich City eased back to the top of the Championship after a tense 3-2 win over Hull City at Carrow Road on Wednesday night.
The Canaries needed to respond after wins for chief rivals Leeds and Sheffield United but they had to survive some nervy moments before sealing a win that moved them two points clear of Leeds.
Marco Stiepermann and Emi Buendia’s brace cancelled out a rick from Tim Krul punished by Marc Pugh and a late goal from Norwich old boy Chris Martin.
Home fans certainly responded to calls from Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke to raise the decibel level from the moment Farke’s new Carrow Road contract was announced shortly before kick-off.
The Tigers appeared happy to retreat and allow Farke’s unchanged side possession in deeper lying areas. But there was a warning in the sixth minute when Jarrod Bowen’s dipping free kick clipped the outside of Krul’s right-hand post after Bowen was initially felled by Tom Trybull.
Norwich badly needed an early settler and two home goals in the space of four minutes was just the ticket. Stiepermann slalomed his way inside three Hull defenders before thumping a close range finish past David Marshall. It got even better when Marshall could only parry Onel Hernandez’s angled strike and Buendia arrived to lash home from five yards out.
The eruption around Carrow Road may well have been heard in Yorkshire. Suddenly there was a freedom and vibrancy to Norwich’s attacking play as Hull reeled on the ropes. Hernandez burst through again but Kevin Stewart managed to halt the winger at the expense of a corner.
Stiepermann was dropping deeper looking for more meaningful employment after his virtuoso opener. There was a raking ball arced towards the overlapping Jamal Lewis but Hull again got numbers back.
Marshall must have feared the worst whenever the yellow shirts ranged forward. But there was a stunning stop in the 25th minute to thwart Buendia, after the Argentine unleashed another of those venomous rising strikes arrowing towards the top corner before Marshall went full length to his right to parry.
Trybull was punished for a needless pirouette on the edge of his own area when he conceded a free kick, but Pugh’s effort sailed into the terraces.
Norwich constructed a sublime move from left to right in the 31st minute, underlining the confidence flowing through the hosts when Hernandez’s back heel freed Teemu Pukki but the Finnish international’s stabbed right footed effort from the angle of the six yard box veered wide.
Stiepermann had played the killer pass in that move and the German ranged forward seconds later to unleash a dipping left footer that had Marshall backpedalling.
Todd Kane lunged at Buendia, to earn the first caution of the game, and the Argentine almost exacted retribution when he cut inside in the 36th minute but guided a curling right-footed shot wide.
Pukki then intelligently ran the channel before picking out the midfielder who shifted his feet but was unable to conjure a shot with any power to trouble Marshall.
If Stiepermann was the standout in the opening quarter, Buendia had edged him out of the spotlight as half-time approached. Another impudent burst was crudely halted, only for City’s creative spark to whip a free kick onto the roof of Marshall’s net.
Norwich should have been out of sight. But there was sour end to the opening period when Krul’s miscued clearance was smacked away on the half-volley by Pugh. It was a painfully cheap concession.
Lewis surged forward on the restart and fed Hernandez but the first time shot was spurned as Hull swarmed around the wide player.
The visitors pressed forward to spark an anxious five minute spell when Norwich’s lack of precision in possession did nothing to soothe frayed nerves.
Step up again Buendia. McLean’s long pass was back heeled in mid-air into the path of Pukki who returned the favour for the midfielder to coolly slot past Marshall at his near post.
You could visibly see the pressure lifting from Farke’s men. The tempo went up, the passing was crisper, the crowd were upbeat. Hernandez dragged a shot wide.
Moritz Leitner replaced Stiepermann as Norwich sought to avoid any late dramas but it was Hull substitute and Canaries’ old boy Martin who powered in a diving near post header in the 87th minute.
Pukki raced clear at the other end but dragged his shot wide from an acute angle.
• Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis, Trybull, McLean, Buendia (Vrancic 89), Stiepermann (Leitner 85), Hernandez (Klose 90), Pukki. Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Rhodes, Hanley, Cantwell.
• Booking: Lewis (foul on Bowen, 49)
• Goals: Stiepermann (11), Buendia (14, 60)
• Hull City: Marshall, Lichaj, Burke, Stewart (Milinkovic 71), Pugh, Irvine, Kane, Bowen (Grosicki 72), Henriksen, Campbell, Ridgewell. Subs (not used): Long (GK), Evandro, Kingsley, McKenzie, Martin.
• Bookings: Kane (foul on Buendia, 34); Burke (foul on Hernandez, 59); Henriksen (foul on McLean, 65)
• Goals: Pugh (45), Martin (87)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorks)
• Attendance: 25,879