Cardiff 1, Norwich 2
David Cuffley Welsh dragon Ched Evans produced a magnificent goal two minutes from time to give Norwich City victory in his homeland. It was his second and stretched Norwich's run to 12 Championship games without defeat.
Welsh dragon Ched Evans produced a magnificent goal two minutes from time to give Norwich City victory in his homeland this afternoon.
The 19-year-old striker had given the Canaries the lead after 15 minutes against Cardiff City at Ninian Park when he fired home from a cross by Ryan Bertrand - but even better was to come late in the game.
Gavin Rae equalised for the Bluebirds in first half stoppage time after a misplaced pass by fullback Matthew Bates, making his first start since his loan move from Middlesbrough.
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Cardiff might have gone ahead in the closing stages when David Marshall kept out a Paul Parry header with a superb save, but it was Evans who had a final say.
After 88 minutes, he unleashed a shot like a guided missile from at least 35-yards to beat stunned keeper Michael Oakes.
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It was a happy return for Evans to the ground where he scored a hat-trick earlier in the season for Wales Under-21s. And for the Canaries, dressed all in red in a strip that would not have been out of place across the city at the Millennium Stadium, the victory stretched their run to 12 Championship games without defeat.
City boss Roeder made one change to his starting line-up after the 1-0 win over Preston. Matthew Bates, on loan from Middlesbrough, was given his first start for the Canaries at right-back after playing most of the second half last Saturday.
He replaced Jon Otsemobor, who has been troubled by an Achilles injury and also missed training for part of the week because of a family bereavement. But Otsemobor was on the bench, where there were two further changes with Darren Huckerby recalled to the 16 and Reading defender Alex Pearce also named among the substitutes.
The two absentees from last week's squad were striker Jamie Cureton, recovering from an appendix operation, and on-loan winger James Henry.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones named the same 11 and five substitutes from last week's 2-1 defeat at Stoke.
Kick-off was at midday to avoid a clash with the Six Nations rugby match taking place across the city later in the afternoon.
Cardiff, who had won their previous five home games, were soon on the attack and Bates had to concede a corner in the opening minute when he headed clear from a cross by Whittingham.
As the corner came in from the left, Camara headed clear but landed badly and was clearly in some discomfort, needing treatment from City physio Reynolds and holding his back before being able to continue.
Norwich, wearing their away kit of all red, counter-attacked and Croft won a throw-in close to the right corner flag, but the attack broke down and as Cardiff broke, Doherty made an important challenge to halt the progress of Parry down the left.
Norwich won their first corner after seven minutes when Capaldi cut out an attempted cross from Russell. Fotheringham took the flag-kick and Doherty won the header but his effort went over the bar.
The game had begun in bright sunshine and Marshall and the Norwich defenders were frequently having to shield their eyes to get a clear view of the action.
There was a fairly subdued atmosphere inside the stadium so far, perhaps partly because of the early start and also the lack of any clear-cut chances created by either side in the early stages.
Russell tried to send Evans away with a diagonal pass, but Johnson got back to deny the young striker with a timely tackle.
But Evans was not to be denied for long and with 15 minutes gone, Evans gave the Canaries the lead with his fifth goal for the club.
Russell picked out Bertrand on the left and he did superbly to get in a low cross to the edge of the area, enabling Evans to beat keeper Oakes with a low drive.
It was a happy return to the ground where Evans had scored a hat-trick for Wales Under-21s against France just a few weeks ago.
As the home side tried to hit back, a free-kick from Whittingham was headed away by Bates, and then Doherty did well to cut out a centre from Hasselbaink.
Norwich won another corner when Loovens just stopped Croft from getting on the end of a Dublin pass. Fotheringham's kick found the head of Doherty again, but this time referee Beeby had blown for an infringement.
Hasselbaink's persistence won Cardiff another corner after 23 minutes and Ledley took the kick, but Camara, having recovered from his early knock, was up to head clear once again.
Dublin pulled up sharply as he stretched for a pass from Croft but he refused treatment and decided to try to run it off.
Bertrand and Camara put together a promising move along the left and Croft tried to turn Camara's cross back across goal but it did not fall to a red shirt and Cardiff were able to clear fairly comfortably.
There was a brief alarm in the Norwich rearguard when Camara headed out for a corner from Ledley's cross and his header was a bit too close to Marshall's left-hand post for comfort. But Whittingham's corner was easily cleared and the home crowd were becoming a little impatient with their team's efforts.
There was a further scare when Doherty kicked thin air in trying to clear a Capaldi centre, but Parry was unable to take advantage and his involuntary stab at the ball merely knocked it past the post.
A huge kick up field by Oakes reached the Norwich area and posed problems, Doherty doing extremely well to block a shot from Parry. Moments later, Marshall coming out to claim a header from Ledley.
There was a further delay as Bates became the second Norwich defender to require treatment in his own penalty area.
Probably the biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Doherty was penalised for holding Hasselbaink on the halfway line and, from the resulting free-kick taken by McPhail, Hasselbaink drove forward purposefully and was only just off target with a swerving left-foot drive.
As the Canaries hit back, Fotheringham's free-kick found the head of Shackell but his effort was straight into the hands of Oakes.
A long throw from Capaldi almost caused problems in the Norwich six-yard box and they were able to clear for a corner, with Ledley's kick headed away by Camara.
Five minutes before the break, Hasselbaink looked threatening again with an excellent turn and a powerful right-foot shot that flashed just wide.
The contest had certainly livened up and at one end, Evans headed straight at Oakes after being set up by Croft, before Whittingham fired over the top for the hosts.
Norwich were suddenly under a bit of pressure with Evans, Doherty and Russell all having to make important clearances from inside their own penalty area. And they had an additional four minutes of stoppage time to survive to the half-time interval.
As Cardiff pressed again Whittingham aimed their fifth corner towards Loovens, but the defender's header looped into the air and Fotheringham was able to hook the ball away.
Sure enough, in the dying moments of stoppage time, Cardiff levelled the scores with a gift of a goal, scored by Rae.
It came after a mistake by Bates, whose attempted short pass to Doherty was intercepted by Ledley and his cross towards the penalty spot was helped on by Hasselbaink to Rae, who took his time to place his low shot past Marshall.
t Half-time: Cardiff 1, Norwich 1
From the restart, it was the Cardiff defence who were having to cope with the sun in their eyes and keeper Oakes, wearing a cap, had to make a rather hurried clearance into touch under pressure from Evans in the opening minute of the half.
Johnson was next to make a timely clearance when he got his head to a cross from Camara.
Cardiff won a free-kick just inside the visitors' half when Doherty fouled Hasselbaink. As Capaldi's kick came over, Dublin headed clear but Fotheringham, going for the second header, went down clutching his back and needed treatment before he could resume.
As play carried on, the home side attacked down the right but a cross from Whittingham was an easy catch for Marshall.
The Bluebirds were not making the most of their dead-ball opportunities and another poor Ledley corner was easily cut out by Camara.
Little had been seen of Norwich as an attacking force in the second half, but a long ball forward by Fotheringham had Oakes racing out again to clear under pressure from Croft and after failing to make the initial catch, the keeper had to knock the ball into touch.
But with nearly an hour gone, there had been little goalmouth action since the break.
The Canaries won their first corner of the half when Russell's cross was cut out, and Fotheringham aimed his kick towards Dublin but the striker was outnumbered and Cardiff went on the counter-attack, where Ledley brought Marshall into action with a curling, left-foot shot.
Norwich were suddenly down to 10 men when Bertrand left the field and ran down the tunnel, though it was not immediately clear what the problem was.
The first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to Bates after 64 minutes when he slid in with a late challenge on McPhail. Moments later, Bertrand returned to bring his team back to full-strength.
Huckerby had been limbering up on the touchline for much of the second half and enjoying some lively banter with Cardiff's more vociferous fans, but at this stage there was no immediate sign of Norwich making a change.
More than once, Cardiff's attacks were foiled by the offside flag, to the frustration of the crowd, while Norwich had created very few openings of their own since the interval.
Finally, the Canaries did make a change with 20 minutes left when Huckerby was sent on in place of Croft.
He immediately took up Croft's position on the right.
The Canaries at least managed a shot on target when Evans turned neatly on to a Camara free-kick and although his right-foot effort lacked power, there was a brief scare as Oakes almost let it slide underneath him.
Cardiff were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area when Doherty was penalised but again they wasted it.
The ball was touched to Whittingham but he took too long teeing up his shot and Shackell charged out to block it.
With 15 minutes to go, Norwich won a free-kick of their own just outside the Cardiff area when Russell was fouled by McNaughton. Fotheringham took it but curled a right-foot shot two or three yards wide.
With 12 minutes to go, Cardiff did come very close to going ahead and it took a great save from Marshall to deny them.
Capaldi swung in a cross from the left, which was met by a powerful header from Parry that was destined for the top corner before Marshall leapt to his right to palm in away for a corner.
As they waited to take the flag-kick, the home side made a change with Thompson replacing Hasselbaink.
A neat Norwich move involving Bertrand, Dublin and Russell was spoiled when Huckerby's low cross towards Dublin was cut out.
With eight minutes to go, Roeder made a second change with Pattison replacing Bertrand.
Russell was in trouble a minute later when he appeared to be caught by the boot of Bates in a collision with his team-mate.
Russell appeared to be holding his right hand but was able to carry on gamely.
In the closing minutes, there was a brief flare up between Camara and substitute Thompson and both men were lectured by the referee before play continued.
With just two minutes left, Evans gave the Canaries the lead with a simply magnificent goal, his second of the match. Getting possession just inside the Cardiff half, he advanced a few yards before unleashing a venomous right-foot drive from at least 35-yards which flew like a guided missile into the top corner past the astounded Oakes.
Evans peeled off his shirt in celebration and was booked for doing so, but Norwich's travelling fans were jubilant.
With four minutes of stoppage time announced, McPhail fired over the top as the hosts looked for a late equaliser.
A long throw by Capaldi was cleared as far as Whittingham but his shot was charged down and that was Cardiff's last chance of the match.
t Full-time: Cardiff 1, Norwich 2