Norwich City 1-0 Leicester City - Lewis strike secures much-needed three points for City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City beat high-flying Leicester City 1-0 at Carrow Road on Friday, with Jamal Lewis’ second half strike proving to be the difference between the sides.
The Northern Irish international rifled a volley into the net after 70 minutes to secure the three points for City, who reduced the gap at the bottom of the table to four points, with their relegation competitors in action tomorrow.
It was a case of would he or wouldn't he, but Daniel Farke elected to start Emi Buendia following his constructive comments about the Argentinean playmaker at his pre-match press conference. That change saw Lukas Rupp drop to the bench as City looked to find a remedy for their recent lack of firepower.
Buendia's influence in offensive passages this season has been undeniable, but he would've been looking to answer the calls from Farke for an improved goal return.
Michael McGovern replaced understudy goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann on the bench and Marco Stiepermann returned to the squad as a substitute.
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Leicester City arrived at Carrow Road looking to shrug off their poor form and cement their place in the Champions League qualification places.
The Premier League's joint top scorer Jamie Vardy was side-lined with a calf injury, meaning Kelechi Iheanacho led the line for the Foxes.
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Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side who were narrowly beaten by Manchester City last weekend.
England Under-21 internationals Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury came in alongside Ayoze Perez as Rodgers reverted to the Foxes conventional 4-1-4-1 formation.
James Maddison was returning to Carrow Road for the first time in a domestic fixture and it was his teasing cross that carved out the first opening of the game. His whipped cross found Choudhury, but he couldn't head his effort on target.
At the other end, Ondrej Duda' recycled corner was worked back to the Slovakian by Kenny McLean. Duda's cross found Ben Godfrey, who had a free header at goal, but the England Under-21 international failed to work Kasper Schmeichel.
City dominated possession in the opening exchanges but lacked penetration as they sought to make meaningful inroads into the Foxes half.
Buendia was attempting to pull the strings but uncharacteristically lacked the accuracy in a number of his key passes.
Buendia's lack of positional discipline nearly cost City, as Leicester turned over the ball and broke through Barnes. Aarons was isolated due to Buendia's wandering, Barnes worked the ball into Dennis Praet, but his volley was straight at Tim Krul.
City continued to probe, with Duda slotting in Teemu Pukki after opting not to shoot himself, but the Finn's effort was blocked by the legs of Caglar Soyuncu.
The Foxes were content with attempting to counter attack, and looked lively after Cantwell was dispossessed.
Ricardo Pereira overlapped and crossed into the path of Praet, who used his thigh to cushion the ball onto the post. That attack from the Foxes proved how effectively they could counter after winning possession.
Leicester were firmly in the ascendancy as the half progressed, and Perez went on a mazy run before unleashing a driven shot towards goal. Krul dived to his left to save the effort.
Pukki displayed great tenacity to withstand numerous challenges from Leicester's defence before exchanging passes with Cantwell.
The Finn's shot from the edge of the area was scuffed wide as City continued to work themselves into good positions without reward.
Maddison's set-piece delivery continued to cause City problems, and the ex-Canaries midfielder found the head of Jonny Evans but he failed to generate any power on his header.
The Foxes thought they'd taken the lead shortly after the interval, as Iheanacho stole possession from Godfrey before curling it into the net. Replays showed that the ball rebounded off the Nigerian's arm prior to the goal and chalked off the strike.
City's reluctance to shoot from range was preventing their attacking output, but Duda did hit a shot from outside the box which swerved goalward, only for Schmeichel to produce a fingertip save to push the ball over the bar.
Lewis broke the press superbly in the 65th minute and City overloaded Leicester in transition. Buendia progressed the ball forward before teeing up Duda in the area. The Slovakian had the goal at his mercy but blasted his shot straight at Schmeichel.
City did the lead on the 70th minute, courtesy of the unlikeliest source in Lewis.
Godfrey switched the play and found Aarons in space on the right and he beat Ben Chilwell before clipping a cross to the back post. Lewis picked up the loose ball and rifled a volley into the net.
The Canaries opted to sit deeper in their off the ball shape and soak up pressure as Leicester looked for an equaliser.
City managed the game superly and limited Leicester to very little in the final exchanges to secure the win.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Godfrey, Hanley (C), Lewis; Tettey, McLean; Buendia, Duda (Stiepermann, 87), Cantwell (Rupp, 68); Pukki (Drmic, 81). Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Trybull, Vrancic, Idah.
- Bookings: Hanley
- Goals: Lewis 70
- Leicester City (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel (C); Ricardo Soyuncu, Evans, Chilwell; Choudhury (Ndidi, 67); Iheanacho, Praet (Tielemans, 73), Maddison, Barnes; Perez (Albrighton, 78). Subs not used: Ward (GK), Justin, Morgan, Gray.
- Bookings: Praet, Schmeichel
- Added on time: 1 min/ 5 mins
- Attendance: 27,010
- Referee: Craig Pawson
- VAR: Graham Scott