Baggies edge seven-goal thriller as Canaries lose first home game of the season
PUBLISHED: 22:31 11 August 2018 | UPDATED: 22:31 11 August 2018
West Brom edged an action-packed seven-goal thriller at Carrow Road as Norwich City lost their first home game of the Championship season 4-3.
City had claimed the lead midway through the first half through Jordan Rhodes but saw the visitors grab an undeserved equaliser from the penalty spot through Jay Rodriguez, with Rhodes missing a chance to reclaim the lead from the penalty spot before the break.
The Baggies moved into a 3-1 lead after the break after City keeper Tim Krul had fumbled a Rodriguez shot into his net and Harvey Barnes had blasted a fine shot in from the edge of the box.
Teemu Pukki brought the hosts to 3-2 behind before Hal Robson-Kanu eased the Baggies 4-2 up, only for City skipper Grant Hanley to thump a header home from close range to make it 4-3 late on.
The hosts couldn’t find a late equaliser but the Carrow Road spectators certainly got value for money in a thrilling encounter that Norwich really didn’t deserve to lose.
The Canaries made three changes to the team which started the dramatic 2-2 draw at Birmingham last weekend, with the fit-again Ivo Pinto surprisingly starting at left-back.
Moritz Leitner and Kenny McLean, on the back of influential substitute appearances at St Andrew’s, were both handed their first starts of the season in place of Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull.
The visitors made two changes, with former Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle making his first start and Allan Nyom starting at right-back, replacing James Morrison and Manchester City loanee Tosin Adarabioyo respectively.
The changes had the desired effect and the Canaries totally dominated the first half, with Onel Hernandez testing West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone at his near post with a low shot in the fourth minute.
Pinto cut inside and cut the home faithful on their feet in the 16th minute with a powerful 20-yard shot which forced Johnstone to sprawl to his left to save.
Rhodes should have opener the scoring when the influential Leitner played him clean through in the 23rd minute but the ball wouldn’t drop and eventually the loanee tried but failed to nutmeg the keeper from close range.
The former Ipswich man did get his first Canaries goal a minute later though, after Hernandez’s shot was cleared off the line and Teemu Pukki had kept the ball alive at the back post, allowing Rhodes to ram home from six yards.
Leitner and Pinto both fired over as the hosts continued to dominate but then, against the run of play, the Baggies found an equaliser. Matt Phillips’ cross from the right evaded Ben Marshall at the far post and Gayle was caught by Tim Krul as he tried to bundle the ball in from close range.
Rodriguez sent the keeper the wrong way, rolling his penalty into the bottom-left corner for 1-1.
Four minutes later and the lead should have been reclaimed by City, when Chris Brunt brought down Hernandez at the other end to concede a penalty, after Alex Tettey had won possession to start the counter.
Rhodes opted to roll weakly to his right and totally fluffed the chance, allowing Johnstone to easily hold the spot-kick and prompt groans from the home fans.
The striker could have had a hat-trick but, with the Canaries surviving a rapid counter from Phillips thanks to a poor cross from Harvey Barnes, they went into the break drawing 1-1.
However, disaster struck three minutes into the second half after Tettey had lost the ball in midfield, with Rodriguez launching a 30-yard rocket that Krul somehow fumbled into his net as the Baggies took the lead.
Johnstone again made a vital save for the visitors in the 54th minute as City chased an equaliser, with Pukki doing well to turn a McLean pass into the box, Rhodes doing well to poke goalwards but the keeper smothering the ball on his line.
The visitors extended their lead in the 65th minute after superb pace from Phillips to keep the ball in on the right, catching out City’s recovering defence, and squaring for Barnes to lash a low shot into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the D.
With Krul saving with legs from Rodriguez soon after the goal, it looked like the Canaries had fallen apart – but the game was far from done.
Hernandez – the hero of last week – robbed Allan Nyom on the bye-line on the left and pulled a cross back to allow Pukki to rifle in his first City goal and set up a thrilling final 20 minutes.
The Finland international’s tenacious work saw him test Johnstone at his near post in the 78th minute but it was the Baggies who moved further ahead a minute later.
Brunt’s corner from the right was headed back across goal by centre-back Ahmed Hegazi, allowing substitute Hal Robson-Kanu to smash home from 10 yards for a 4-2 lead.
The goal feast wasn’t over yet though, with the Canaries keeping it interesting.
It was Hernandez again with the cross, from the right this time, allowing Hanley to power home a header from close range – before charging back to the centre circle to get the game restarted, like a proper captain.
Hanley again was in the thick of the action in the 88th minute as he thumped a header back across goal from a fine Leitner cross from the right, with Rhodes chucking himself through the air with the goal at his mercy, but just not able to reach and make contact.
Hanley headed over from a Marshall free-kick from the right in the 90th minute, before five minutes of added time began, prompting a roar from the Carrow Road crowd.
That was the closest the Canaries came to an equaliser though, as an epic battle came to an end with West Brom the 4-3 victors.
The Canaries return to action on Tuesday when they host League Two side Stevenage in the Carabao Cup first round, before heading to Sheffield United in the league on Saturday.
Norwich: Krul; Marshall, Hanley (C), Klose, Pinto (Stiepermann 89); Tettey, McLean (Srbeny 76); Pukki, Leitner (Thompson 89), Hernandez; Rhodes. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Godfrey, Zimmermann, Cantwell
Goals: Rhodes (24), Pukki (70), Hanley (82)
West Brom: Johnstone; Nyom, Bartley, Hegazi, Gibbs (Townsend 46); Phillips, Livermore (C), Brunt, Barnes (Robson-Kanu 66); Gayle (Morrison 84), Rodriguez. Unused subs: Myhill (GK), Adarabioyo, Burke, Field
Goals: Rodriguez (pen 33, 48), Barnes (65), Robson-Kanu (79)
Referee: Lee Mason