Everton 0-2 Norwich City - Gutsy Canaries gain first three points on the road with impressive win on Merseyside
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City collected their first three points on their travels this season as they beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park.
Second-half goals from Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny saw the Canaries pick up a mammoth away victory to end a dismal run of form that saw them fall to the foot of the Premier League table.
Christoph Zimmermann returned to the starting eleven as City boss Daniel Farke was provided with the choice of two natural centre-back options for the first time since August. Partnering Ben Godfrey, the Canaries were hoping the German could inject some much required ballast into a backline which has been depleted all season.
Critical to any success would be their ability to support Teemu Pukki who has cut an increasingly isolated figure in recent weeks. Kenny McLean was the man tasked with that responsibilty and he duly delivered, putting in an excellent performance that saw City get up the pitch with a greater vigour.
Emi Buendia was dropped to the bench despite his impressive underlying statistics, with City seeking to replicate that defensively resilient display witnessed at the Vitality Stadium in October, the last time City picked up points in the Premier League.
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Everton possess a plethora of offensive talent with boss Marco Silva hoping his side could build on an important victory against a struggling Southampton side.
Silva is a man who finds himself under increasingly mounting pressure and his quest for continuity saw him field an unchanged XI.
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Despite a hint of an alteration in terms of formation at his pre-match press conference, Farke did deploy a similar shape to what has been witnessed throughout the season.
The first meaningful foray forward came from the Canaries, with Zimmermann floating a diagonal pass over to Sam Byram, who found himself in an advanced position on the left but was unable to control the ball.
The hosts first sighting of goal arrived courtesy of Turkish striker Cenk Tosun, who neatly exchanged passes with Gylfi Sigurdsson before firing wide.
A finely balanced opening 20 minutes summarised why City haven't been capable of scoring many on their travels, with the final act often being wasted after neat passages on the ball.
In Everton, City had an opponent who allowed them space to play between the lines, with Max Aarons breaking a disorganised press and finding McLean. The Scot threaded a perfectly weighted ball through to Hernandez, who failed to convert a one-on-one chance after racing through on goal.
Frustration was beginning to build amongst the home faithful inside Goodison Park, with City enjoying a spell of dominance culminating in a chance for Cantwell on the right-hand side of the box after some more good work from Hernandez but he saw his half-volley deflected over the bar.
Everton's nervousness at the back saw City counter again, with Byram's interception unleashing Hernandez down the left once more. His cut back found Byram whose effort was deflected over the bar.
From a City throw, Pukki was sent clear by a cute ball round the corner from Cantwell. However, the Finn had plenty of blue shirts for company and the chance eventually went begging.
The intensity of Everton's passages of play increased after the break, with their pressing more purposeful than in the opening period. City had Godfrey to thank for a series of impressive blocks as the hosts began to work openings in the box.
In the 54th minute, City landed an epic sucker punch as a long Zimmermann pass was knocked down to Pukki who wrestled off a host of blue shirts before teeing up Cantwell who slotted the ball past Jordan Pickford to give City the lead.
Cantwell's strike was only City's second on the road this season, with Pukki's strike at Anfield on the opening night the only goal scored prior to this fixture.
Moments later, McLean's free-kick found the head of Byram at the back post. The left-back was unmarked but failed to hit the target as City attempted to make their dominance count.
City were finding themselves on the receiving end of a sustained period of pressure in the 65th minute, with Sigurdsson's cute flick from a Coleman cross evading everyone in the penalty area and going just wide.
Despite a lack of involvement for the majority of the afternoon, City had Krul to thank as he thwarted an effort from Sigurdsson after some impressive work down the left from Lucas Digne. Merely moments later and the Dutch keeper made another fine stop, getting down low to parry Tosun's effort which was subsequently cleared by Aarons.
City were deploying every trick in the game management manual as they sought to suck every second out of this fixture, with Krul the main antagonist.
Still the Toffee's pressed and still City stood up to the test, with Digne's free-kick and Tom Davies' long range effort held comfortably by City's keeper.
In added time, City doubled their advantage to secure the points after an excellent passing move that saw substitute Srbeny bundle the ball past Pickford into the Everton net after holding off a challenge.
City displayed a more robust streak all afternoon, with balance evident throughout the side.
This was three points that they worked tirelessly to get and were well worth.
- Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford: Sidibe (Coleman, 66), Mina, Holgate, Digne; Davies, Schneiderlin (Iwobi, 56); Walcott (Calvert-Lewin, 66), Sigurdsson (C), Richarlison; Tosun. Subs not used: Lossl (GK), Keane, Kean, Baningime.
- Bookings: Schneiderlin, Holgate
- Goals: None
- Norwich City (4-1-4-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram; Trybull, Tettey (C); McLean (Amadou, 88), Cantwell (Buendia, 80), Hernandez; Pukki (Srbeny, 90). Subs not used: Fahrmann (GK), Stiepermann, Vrancic, Roberts.
- Bookings: Zimmermann, Byram, Aarons, Tettey, McLean
- Goals: Cantwell, 54, Srbeny, 90
- Added on time: 1 min/ 5 mins
- Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
- VAR: Darren England (South Yorkshire)