Norwich City 2 QPR 0 match report: Canaries up and running with first Championship win of the season
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Nelson Oliveira and Harrison Reed’s late blockbuster sealed Norwich City’s first Championship win of the new season in a 2-0 victory over QPR at Carrow Road on Wednesday night.
Oliveira slotted a cool second half finish before Reed hammered a rising shot into the top corner to get Daniel Farke’s reign up and running.
Farke pledged to twist and filtered his reshuffle through a desire for freshness during a gruelling early season spell. But those City options brought in will have known this was a chance to make a strong case. Farke had also spoken about finding a rhythm and imparting a clear philosophy. Those under his command who can grasp that wish advance their cause to be part of the German’s Championship crusade. But looking beyond five changes to the starting line up from Sunderland there was another facet to the head coach’s selection policy. The likes of Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke got another chance to cement a partnership that understandably had struggled to adapt to the rigours of the English second tier. That rightly breeds a degree of sympathy but equally patience is not in limitless supply.
Franke looks to have all the physical attributes to impress in English football. But again his apparent inability to sense danger was evident in the early sparring. Conor Washington ran in behind the central defender but miscued his attempt. Jamie Mackie’s radar was more precise, when he squared up Franke, but Angus Gunn denied the experienced frontman with a diving stop.
Ian Holloway sensed vulnerability down the channels. QPR looked long at every opportunity. The collective pressing from the Hoops was another notable feature. City’s overwhelming superiority against Sunderland in terms of possession would have been duly noted. As much as Farke wants to ‘build the play’ from deep, as James Maddison alluded to in his pre-match press call, Championship rivals will do everything in their power to disrupt such an approach. Norwich’s quest to dominate the ball is a noble aim but it must be achieved at a threatening tempo and with attacking intent.
Oliveira thumped a shot into the side netting that served to lift the Carrow Road crowd. Maddison himself surged forward and exchanged passes with Mario Vrancic, who was crudely halted. The Bosnian’s free kick picked out Franke but his close range header was superbly shovelled away by Alex Smithies.
This was a different QPR to the sorry rabble who turned up on the final day of last season; forever more remembered as John Ruddy’s swansong - and plenty more besides. Holloway incurred the wrath of the home fans in the vicinity of his away dugout when Pawel Wszolek dropped to the turf to halt the action with a hamstring injury that forced his early retirement. The verbal spat ended amicably but this was a proper contest in every sense of the word. The type Norwich need to come through to grow as a group of players and new coaching staff.
The passage of play prior to the interval was scrappy, disjointed and about as far removed from the smooth passing rhythms Farke wants to breed. But that is what City will face routinely, particularly away from Carrow Road. Franke took great exception to Mackie’s high boot as he headed the ball out of play. Words were exchanged once the action resumed, but it was a level of aggression from the big centre back Norwich need in their armoury to complement the slick style.
But the breakthrough was a move of perfection. Vrancic cushioned a pass in behind the QPR rearguard following Hoolahan’s dart for Oliveira to coolly sidefoot the ball past the advancing Smithies.
The Portuguese striker surged towards Farke again in celebration but there was none of the undercurrent to his Craven Cottage equaliser. This was pure joy and relief. But Gunn kept City in front when he gathered Luke Freeman’s close range shot.
Pinto pulled up after a trademark burst. Farke sent for Russell Martin who upended Josh Scowen in his first meaningful intervention but the midfielder skied his free kick. Norwich needed air. Reed delivered with a rising shot from long range that arced over the sprawling Smithies into the top corner to seal the win.
• Norwich City: Gunn, Pinto (Martin 68), Zimmermann, Franke, Husband, Reed, Hoolahan, Vrancic, Maddison, Murphy (Watkins 79), Oliveira (Stiepermann 85). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Naismith, Jerome, Tettey.
• Booking: Martin (foul on Scowen, 72)
• Goals: Oliveira (48), Reed (82)
• QPR: Smithies, Bidwell, Onuoha, Lynch (Furlong 64), Freeman, Washington, Scowen, Mackie (Smith 71), Luongo, Wszolek (Lua Lua 29), Perch. Subs (not used): Ingram (GK), Manning, Borysiuk, Robinson.
• Booking: Lynch (foul on Vrancic, 16)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 5 minutes
• Referee: Oliver Langford (West Mids)
• Attendance: 26,082