Norwich City 1-0 Swansea City: Brilliant Buendia strike secures vital Championship win for table topping Canaries
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Emi Buendia’s stunning second half finish moved Norwich City five points clear at the top of the Championship after a 1-0 win over Swansea City at Carrow Road on Friday night.
The Swans pushed Daniel Farke’s men all the way for long spells but Buendia crashed home a rising half-volley to earn the Canaries a priceless victory with their main title rivals now in action on Saturday.
The Championship leaders received a pre-game boost when Swansea dangerman Oli McBurnie was ruled out with illness. The young Scot had been in scintillating goalscoring form with nine in his previous 10 games and had been identified by Daniel Farke as one to watch.
Dan James was another picked out by the City head coach and the speedster underlined his threat inside the opening seconds with a turn and hit at Tim Krul that followed an impressively assured bout of passing from the Swans.
Kyle Naughton’s miscued pass sparked a sharp counter from the hosts which saw Marco Stiepermann and Teemu Pukki combine sweetly, before Pukki’s reverse ball was a touch heavy for the German.
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The rapid James then closed down Krul’s clearance but the Dutchman gratefully pounced on the rebound.
Norwich were sliced opened again in the seventh minute, with the visitors making light of the rain sweeping across Carrow Road, when Krul parried James’ angled smash.
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Farke highlighted in the build up how good Swansea’s possession-based approach is and there was enough fresh evidence in these opening skirmishes.
Potter’s side were playing with a confidence and a freedom that suggested they fancied their chances of upsetting the promotion-chasing Canaries.
Kenny McLean urged his team mates to up the ante after another corner was conceded during an uncomfortable first quarter.
The home fans sensed Farke’s men needed a lift, with a chorus of ‘Yellows’ reverberating around the stadium.
Jamal Lewis and Onel Hernandez linked with a menace hitherto absent but Stiepermann drifted onto his right before a wayward finish from 18 yards.
Pukki’s cheeky step over freed Hernandez on the half hour mark but his enticing ball rolled across Swansea’s six yard box with no takers in green and yellow.
That lack of precision was underlined in the 32nd minute when Buendia finally worked a pocket of space in front of Swansea’s back four to slide in the deadly Pukki, but the Championship’s top scorer dragged his effort wide from just inside the area.
Krul was required again in the 40th minute to shovel away Bersant Celina’s swerving hit before Lewis completed the clearance.
Christoph Zimmermann then bailed out McLean with a sliding near post block to cut out James’ cross, after the Scot was easily beaten by the Welsh international.
Norwich emerged first after the interval and looked determined to start on the front foot with McLean slashing a volley wide on his right.
But Krul was again harried by James into a sliding, last ditch clearance as the Swans continued to press with ferocity at the top end of the pitch.
Norwich had rarely looked so ill at ease this season for such a prolonged period. It needed a special moment from a special player. Step forward Buendia, who controlled Hernandez’s cutback on his right before cracking a fearsome left-footed half volley beyond Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
Farke settled for an under-stated clenched fist celebration but the scale of joyous outpouring on the terraces and among Buendia’s team mates told a different story. There was a wave of relief washing over Carrow Road.
Stiepermann’s goalbound hit was deflected behind moments later as the Canaries’ tried to ride surge of euphoria.
Hernandez went down inside the Swans’ penalty area after twisting inside Mike van Der Hoorn but referee Jones was unmoved.
Potter made a triple change before Farke responded with the arrival of Mario Vrancic for Stiepermann. The hosts retreated deeper to protect their slender lead. Buendia was rightly booked for hauling down the impressive James.
Swans’ skipper Van der Hoorn rose to power Connor Roberts’ corner over the top of Krul’s bar. Pukki’s low shot grazed the outside of the far post in the 88th minute as Norwich rallied again looking for insurance.
• Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis, Trybull, McLean, Buendia (Leitner 90), Stiepermann (Vrancic 84), Hernandez, Pukki (Klose 90). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Rhodes, Hanley, Cantwell.
• Booking: Buendia (foul on James, 80)
• Goal: Buendia (54)
• Swansea City: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Carter-Vickers, Van der Hoorn, Roberts, Grimes, Byers (John 81), Celina, James, Routledge (Baker-Richardson 68), Dyer (McKay 68). Subs (not used): Mulder (GK), Harris, Fulton.
• Booking: Carter-Vickers (foul on McLean, 90)
• Time added on: 0 minutes / 3 minutes
• Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)
• Attendance: 26,360