Norwich City 1-4 Atalanta: Canaries slip to friendly loss against Serie A outfit
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s Carrow Road pre-season homecoming ended in a 4-1 defeat against Champions League qualifiers Atalanta on Tuesday night.
Todd Cantwell fired Daniel Farke's side in front after 16 minutes but Luis Muriel cashed in on poor defensive work from the Canaries to level prior to the interval.
Muriel added a second - with the assistance of VAR in operation for the first time at Carrow Road - before Mario Pasalic and Musa Barrow sealed the friendly win for the Italians.
Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia made a welcome return to the City line up after missing out to rest minor knocks against Luton Town at the weekend.
Ben Godfrey replaced Grant Hanley to slot in alongside captain Timm Klose, with the Scot tweaking a groin in the closing stages at Kenilworth Road.
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Mario Vrancic was included on the bench for the first time in pre-season after his calf injury.
Atalanta included on loan striker Duvan Zapata among the substitutes after an extended break following his involvement for Colombia in the Copa America. Zapata plundered 29 goals last season in the Bergamo club's march to the Champions League.
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Ralf Fahrmann survived an early scare when his attempted clearance was charged down by Muriel but the ball span the right sight of his goal.
Cantwell and Buendia combined down the Norwich right but Andrea Masiello came across to block the Argentine.
Muriel headed Alejandro Gomez's corner wide, after darting to the near post, but the early intent was all from the Italians.
Onel Hernandez, Cantwell and finally Buendia worked an opening for Pukki in the eighth minute but Robin Gosens thwarted the Finn as he prepared to shoot 16 yards out.
Jamal Lewis was proving Norwich's most productive outlet following Atalanta's initial burst. A lovely whipped cross on the run was guided over on the volley by Pukki from seven yards, after a trademark piece of anticipation to get across his marker.
Cantwell snapped into a challenge to spark a counter led by Pukki, who picked his moment to roll in Buendia arriving at the edge of the penalty area but Pierluigi Gollini was able to drop on his sidefooted effort.
Respite proved temporary for the visitors when Cantwell collected Leitner's superb disguised pass to open up his body and tuck the ball away inside the near post from eight yards.
The boy from Dereham never appears to lack for confidence but in the aftermath of his goal moved up a gear with a reverse pass the advancing Gollini claimed just in front of Pukki.
Then a cheeky step over allowed Leitner to pick his spot on the half-hour mark, but the cultured midfielder skied his effort.
Atalanta's creative spark, captain Gomez, nutmegged Tom Trybull before a slashing effort Fahrmann initially parried and claimed at the second attempt.
The Italians were now pressing with a far higher urgency, driven on by a clearly unhappy boss Mirco Moioli, pacing the away dugout. But as Farke had been at pains to point out during the ebb and flow of pre-season he wants his squad to be tested in all facets as they prepare for the Premier League.
Cantwell felt he was unfairly body checked as he burst into the Atalanta area in the 37th minute but the referee's decision to play advantage almost paid dividends until Sam Byram's heavy intended touch to Pukki.
Muriel dragged a low shot at Fahrmann then drove past Byram but curled over from just inside the area in another signal of intent from the visitors.
City were probing on the counter and Cantwell slid an angled pass into the feet of Pukki only for Jose Luis Palomino to block the strike.
But Norwich gifted the Italians an equaliser in the final moments of the opening period when Klose's attempted pass across his own penalty area from Fahrmann's roll out was pounced on by Muriel, who drilled a right-footed finish into the top corner.
Farke opted not to make changes at the interval and Pukki could have notched in the 47th minute only for an outstretched leg from Gollini following Hernandez's pressing.
Cantwell again showed vision and perfect timing to free the Finn seconds later but Gollini was up to the task.
The increasing visibility of Godfrey mopping up behind his defence at the other end as Muriel tried to run in behind testified to the visible attacking threat of the Italians.
Zapata replaced Gomez just before the hour mark to further bolster the visitors' potency and the Colombian was instrumental in their second goal, driving at the Canaries' backline before slipping in Maarten De Roon who timed his pass for Muriel to double his tally.
Referee Peter Bankes initially signalled for the use of VAR to be employed for the first time to check the final pass was onside before pointing to the centre circle after consulting with VAR official David Coote.
City substitute Dennis Srbeny squared up to Palomino when his run was crudely halted before Buendia's free kick struck the wall when order was resumed.
Zapata then raced clear at the other end and poked the ball past the advancing Fahrmann but Kenny McLean just got back on his own line.
Fahrmann pawed out a bicycle kick from Andrea Masiello with the game now in a frantic phase. Vrancic got his first action of pre-season in the final quarter, along with Max Aarons replacing Leitner and Byram respectively.
Zapata had the ball in the net in the 79th minute but after a moment's pause from the official the goal was chalked off for handball. But the visitors made no mistake in stoppage time when Barrow slotted Ruslan Malinovskyi's perfectly-weighted pass.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Fahrmann; Byram (Aarons 76), Godfrey, Klose, Lewis (Heise 83); Leitner (Vrancic 76), Trybull (McLean 63); Cantwell (Roberts 63), Buendia (Idah 83), Hernandez (Srbeny 66); Pukki (Drmic 63). Subs (not used): Krul, Stiepermann.
- Booking: Trybull (foul on Gomez, 35)
- Goal: Cantwell (16)
- Atalanta (3-4-1-2): Gollini (Rossi 86); Djimsiti (Barrow 73), Masiello (Ibañez 83), Palomino (Okoli 86); Hateboer, De Roon (Freuler 66), Pasalic (Pessina 86), Gosens (Reca 73); Gomez (Zapata 59); Muriel (Castagne 73), Ilicic (Malinovskyi 44). Subs (not used): Sportiello, Colley.
- Booking: De Roon (foul on Buendia, 18)
- Goals: Muriel (45, 62), Pasalic (83), Barrow (90)
- Referee: Peter Bankes
- Attendance: 12,557