Norwich City 1-0 Toulouse: Canaries’ sign off pre-season with win over Ligue 1 outfit
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Kenny McLean’s first half strike wrapped up Norwich City’s pre-season with a 1-0 friendly win over Toulouse on Saturday at Carrow Road.
McLean thumped home a left-footed effort from 25 yards but Daniel Farke's squad spurned a glut of chances during the entire game and needed both Tim Krul and Ralf Fahrmann to make some decent stops at the other end, when the French side occasionally threatened on the counter.
Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Tom Trybull, Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki all retained their places from the starting line up that lost 4-1 to Atalanta in midweek. Timm Klose sat out the final tune up to rest a hip flexor issue, with the likes of Patrick Roberts and Moritz Leitner included on the bench.
The French top flight side, who kick off their domestic campaign away to Brest on August 10, had some familiar names in the likes of Max Gradel, John Bostock and Yaya Sanogo.
City carved open Toulouse with a slick opening corner routine involving Buendia, Cantwell and Pukki that eventually saw captain Grant Hanley smack a half-volley parried by Baptiste Reynet.
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Godfrey conjured one of those raking crossfield balls for the overlapping Aarons, but Issiaga Sylla was back on the cover at the expense of a home corner.
Godfrey then got a flick to Buendia's delivery but the visitors hacked clear inside their own six yard box.
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Toulouse's gameplan was all too apparent, stringing five purple shirts across midfield and inviting City to try and break them down. But there was also an echo to Atalanta's approach in the potential threat on the counter with the pace of Efthymoios Koulouris.
Cantwell reprised his step over routine from midweek, on the edge of the penalty area, but Pukki was unable to thread the return pass through the legs of Augustin Rogel.
Toulouse's tactics were limiting the chances to test Reynet in the opening quarter until Trybull pinched the ball in midfield and Buendia threaded it around the centre back for Pukki, who scuffed his attempted finish.
Sylla then headed McLean's looping header off his line, after a robust tackle from the same player on Marco Stiepermann earned him a lecture from the referee and City a free kick.
Krul was finally pressed into service in the 29th minute following another prolonged lull in the tempo to gather a tame effort from Koulouris.
Norwich appeared to carry the sharper cutting edge and Cantwell's perfectly-timed run was matched by McLean's exquisite lifted pass, only for the back-pedalling Reynet shovelled his glancing header behind.
Godfrey headed home Hanley's flick from the set piece, but the City centre was flagged for offside.
Aaron Leya Iseka belatedly injected some thrust from the visitors when he squared up Aarons and unleashed a swinging shot that brushed the young full back and veered wide of Krul's far post.
Emboldened, Toulouse raided again when Sylla turned Buendia down the left and whipped over a cross met by Koulouris on the volley but Krul was down sharply to smother.
Reynet then matched his rival at the opposite end to divert Pukki's angled effort.
That flurry of attacking intent ended in a breakthrough for Norwich. Buendia picked out the unmarked McLean in the 39th minute who let fly from 25 yards with a low strike that caught Reynet on his heels as it nestled inside the left-hand post.
Krul, however, was needed again in the 43rd minute to thwart captain Matthieu Dossevi at his near post.
But it was Norwich who came closest to doubling their lead in the final stages of the opening period when Lewis roamed forward and thumped a 20 yard strike the busy Reynet parried.
Fahrmann replaced Krul at the interval in the one change to Farke's original starting line up.
The German was called on two minutes in to deny Sam Sanna after Pukki fluffed a chance to make it two at the other end.
Pukki almost made amends when he cushioned an inviting ball into Buendia who slammed the foot of a post with a low right-footed strike.
City turned the tables in the 58th minute with a counter of their own after a spell of Toulouse possession. Cantwell burst free but with Reynet to beat sidefooted a rising strike over. Undeterred, he took the responsibility again a minute later with a dart into the area and curling strike that flew past the far post with Reynet beaten.
That was the boy from Dereham's final act, departing to a warm ovation along with McLean and Trybull in a triple change just past the hour mark that saw Leitner, Mario Vrancic and Onel Hernandez introduced.
Pukki was thwarted twice in the space of a minute with Buendia again the orchestrator before the Finn was replaced by Josip Drmic.
Fahrmann's shot-stopping capabilities were tested again in the 70th minute when Gradel unleashed a first time effort on his left.
Vrancic spurned a chance to open his account for pre-season when he miscued Hernandez's cut back from Leitner's precise pass.
City's failure to convert a growing stack of chances reached slapstick proportions 10 minutes from the end when first Drmic was denied before both Srbeny and Vrancic had shots deflected inside the Toulouse penalty area.
To underline the point Farke made on Friday about improving the conversion rate in the final third it needed Fahrmann to tip over Sanogo's rising strike to keep the hosts in front.
Drmic then burst free again with the Toulouse backline visibly tiring and picked out Leitner's burst but the German's effort was at Reynet.
The French keeper then kept out strikes from Roberts and Srbeny as the artillery rained in. Godfrey decided to join the shooting practice with a 25-yard effort that flew wide.
Fahrmann was again required in the first minute of added on time to thwatr Jean Victor Makengo.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul (Fahrmann 45), Aarons (Byram 86), Godfrey, Hanley, Lewis (Heise 86), McLean (Vrancic 61), Trybull (Leitner 61), Buendia (Srbeny 72), Stiepermann (Roberts 72), Cantwell (Hernandez 61), Pukki (Drmic 65). Subs (all used).
- Goal: McLean (39)
- Toulouse (4-5-1): Reynet, Amian, Shoji (Diakite 67), Iseka (Sanogo 76), Boisgard (Gradel 67), Sylla, Dossevi (Ngoumou 86), Rogel, Koulouris, Sanna (Bostock 87), Makengo. Subs (not used): Goicoechea (GK), Goncalves, Diarra, Adli.
- Referee: Kevin Friend (Leics)
- Attendance: 12,650