Another Norwich City fightback to be proud of
Frantic, passionate, thrilling, vigorously contested, thoroughly entertaining . . . Saturday’s encounter at Leeds ticked all the right boxes.
From start to finish it was a fantastic game of football, and one that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Premier League.
The way the home side started the game, they looked set to romp to victory.
Leeds came flying out of the traps, and went about their business with such incredibly high intensity that the Canaries hardly got a look in as an attacking force.
City were pinned deep into their own half and had to defend for their lives for long spells as Leeds produced wave after wave of razor-sharp, penetrative football.
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Simon Grayson’s men were combative and first to the ball in midfield, they were lively, dangerous and productive out on the flanks and they were a real menace whenever the ball was played into the box.
Norwich had their hands full just trying to keep their opponents at arm’s length. And when Luciano Becchio put Leeds in front after 17 minutes, what had already become a huge task for the Canaries became even bigger.
- 1 Farke reveals Buendia concerns and fitness updates on Pukki and Krul after 2-1 Cardiff win
- 2 City's Giannoulis move enters the end game
- 3 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 2-1 Cardiff win
- 4 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' 2-1 Championship win against Cardiff City
- 5 'As good as I've seen him!' - City fans laud Cantwell performance
- 6 Paddy Davitt verdict: Relentless City operating on a different level
- 7 No Pukki no problem for Canaries as they move seven points clear at the top
- 8 City edging closer to deal for Giannoulis
- 9 'We need to pull our weight' - City skipper relieved to end his goal drought
- 10 City boss on Quintilla future amid Giannoulis pursuit
But then we really saw what this Norwich team is all about this season.
Many sides without the same level of desire and determination that the Canaries possess these days would have folded like a pack of cards and crumbled to a heavy defeat under similar conditions at Leeds.
City though? Well, they just knuckled down and set about playing themselves back into the contest.
In the second half, City were a completely different proposition.
Buoyed by Henri Lansbury’s equaliser in first half stoppage time, to their great credit City managed to turn the balance of play in their favour.
First and foremost they were patient. When it was right to do so, City kept the ball better for longer periods than had been the case in the first half. And when they looked to move forward, they did so with real purpose and quality.
One wouldn’t have thought it probable at one stage, but it got to the point where Norwich completely turned the tables on their opponents, to the extent that Leeds soon began to get desperate.
Whereas they had been able to stroke the ball about with confidence and style in the first half, Leeds were now forcing their play and snatching at things.
By contrast, the Canaries were not only good enough to have gained the upper hand, but they were then able to take full advantage by putting themselves ahead.
When Wes Hoolahan danced his way into the penalty area and clipped the ball past Kasper Schmeichel, Norwich really were on a roll.
It doesn’t get any harder at this level than it did for City at the weekend when they found themselves a goal down, away from home against an in-form and rip-roaring Leeds team. So they can hold their heads very high at what they accomplished at Elland Road. They undoubtedly deserved a share of the spoils.
• NEIL’S MAN OF THE MATCH – ZAK WHITBREAD: After being recalled to the starting line-up, Whitbread was a colossus for the Canaries at the heart of the defence. He was strong in the air, fearless and aggressive in the tackle, and he came to City’s rescue by producing some excellent individual defending. He barely put a foot wrong all afternoon. It was as good a defensive display as you could ask for.