Nelson Oliveira’s wonder strike earns Norwich City a 2-2 draw at Championship leaders Wolves
PUBLISHED: 21:55 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:24 22 February 2018
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Nelson Oliveira broke his goal drought in stunning fashion with a long range missile in the 93rd minute sealing a remarkable Championship comeback for Norwich City.
Wolves raced into a two-goal advantage, Jamal Lewis inadvertently diverting Jota’s shot into his own net before Alfred N’Diaye’s thumping header doubled the hosts’ lead.
But Christoph Zimmermann grabbed City a lifeline prior to the interval before second half substitute Oliveira unleashed a thunderbolt that squirmed through City old boy John Ruddy with virtually the last kick of the game.
Daniel Farke opted to make three changes from the line up that grabbed a dramatic 1-1 Championship draw against Ipswich Town on Sunday. Oliveira and Josh Murphy dropped to the bench with Marley Watkins and Dennis Srbeny forming a new-look front pair. Alex Tettey was handed a breather for Mario Vrancic but Ivo Pinto was a notable injury absentee.
Farke wanted a gauge of how far Norwich City is from competing at the Championship summit. He may just like the answer after pushing Premier League-bound Wolves all the way.
That gap looked more like a chasm when N’Diaye rose imperiously above Marley Watkins to crash home Barry Douglas’ corner to double the hosts’ early advantage.
City already trailed to Jota’s razor-sharp finish, after Zimmermann had rashly dived in before the luckless Lewis diverted Jota’s shot over Angus Gunn’s line.
At that stage you feared for this young City outfit as Wolves cut loose; the blurring speed of their attacking play at the sharp end a cut above the rest of this division.
Farke expected nothing less, of course, as he outlined the threat in the Canaries’ midst prior to this game.
The fireworks and pyrotechnics were not limited to the grand entrance that greeted both sets of players. City were struggling to stem the menacing flow.
With Alex Tettey on the substitutes’ bench, Norwich’s backline lacked that natural protection.
Jota’s instinctive opener also underlined another message Farke and his evolving squad must grasp.
It came seconds after Harrison Reed had escaped the attentions of Willy Boly but his lob from 12 yards sailed over Ruddy’s bar.
On such moments, momentum can swing.
But after Sunday’s character-affirming derby comeback there was fresh evidence at Molineux that urge to resist is alive and well in this group of players.
At 2-0 down, it would have been so easy to cave in and feel the mental and physical rigours of a dramatic comeback against Ipswich. But within two minutes Zimmermann redressed the balance, to a degree, when he met James Maddison’s free kick at Ruddy’s near post to silence the carnival atmosphere.
Norwich visibly grew as the first half elapsed.
Wolves’ counter-attacking urges were far more fitful, as Vrancic and Moritz Leitner found more time and space to combine with Maddison.
Watkins dragged an angled shot at Ruddy just prior to the interval but this was now a contest rather than the early procession.
For Watkins and full debutant Dennis Srbeny this was a big audition.
Farke made it clear during the January transfer window Watkins needed to apply himself to his craft to force his way into the German’s plans.
For Srbeny it was the start a growing body of Norwich fans have demanded with Nelson Oliveira unable to end his goal drought.
The raw striker offered an aerial threat and willingness to come short which perhaps hints at a greater variety to his game than may appear at first sight.
Farke clearly believes there is a talent that can be moulded but much like his challenge to Sean Raggett in recent weeks, those on the periphery need to make a compelling case for regular inclusion.
Watkins drilled a low shot at Ruddy in the 65th minute, following a superbly intricate bout of possession that underlined the surging belief. There were echoes of City’s second half showing at Derby County in the manner of the control and the poise.
But that lack of a real punch remains a justifiable cause for concern. Farke called for Oliveira, who replaced Srbeny for the final quarter. It proved an inspired call.
City’s head coach remained a study in concentration at the front of his technical area as the home crowd voiced their frustration at the turning of the tide.
Maddison was felled by Jota, who was cautioned for his troubles. But the young midfielder clubbed his delivery into Ruddy’s arms.
Derby hero Klose roamed forward only for a buccaneering run of promise to peter out in a collision between Watkins and Ryan Bennett. There was much to admire from the visitors given the potency of the champions-elect early work.
City rumbled forward as the home fans tried to haul their men over the line. Maddison worked a quick corner in the first of three added on minutes but Ruddy scrambled at his near post.
Gunn added his aerial ballast at the next Norwich corner but Ruddy gathered in a duel with his counterpart.
It looked a lost cause but Oliveira broke his drought in emphatic fashion with a goal for the ages that went embarrasingly through Ruddy from a different post code.
• Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, N’Diaye (Gibbs-White 69), Bennett, Cavaleiro (Afobe 60), Neves, Boly, Coady, Costa (Saiss 45), Jota. Subs: (not used): Norris (GK), Baath, Miranda, Bonatini.
• Bookings: Neves (foul on Maddison, 35); N’Diaye (foul on Srbeny, 52); Jota (foul on Maddison, 75);
• Goals: Lewis og (14), N’Diaye (25)
• Norwich City: Gunn, Zimmermann, Hanley, Klose, Reed, Leitner, Vrancic (Hernandez 83), Lewis, Maddison, Watkins (Murphy 83), Srbeny (Oliveira 68). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Husband, Raggett, Tettey.
• Goals: Zimmermann (27), Oliveira (90+3)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 3 minutes
• Referee: James Linnington (Newport)
• Attendance: 29,100 (624 away fans)