Hints of quality on difficult day for Canaries defender
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There were more hints of quality during Ozan Kabak’s second Norwich City appearance but the 2-0 defeat at Everton proved a disappointing experience overall for the centre-back.
The 21-year-old loan defender is still getting up to speed having played no part in Schalke’s pre-season and after missing the final few games of last season with Liverpool due to a minor injury.
It was Kabak's mistimed tackle that conceded a soft penalty midway through the first half, much to the frustration of the Canaries players after a VAR intervention, and he was taken off in the 69th minute after coming close to a second yellow card.
Again there were encouraging signs in possession though, as Daniel Farke started with a back three for the first time in the Premier League this season, with the Turkey international on the right and Ben Gibson to the left of captain Grant Hanley.
It looks likely that trio will now be given time to gel and strive for a much needed clean sheet after City made it 16 goals conceded and just two scored in six successive defeats.
Kabak strode forward in the fifth minute but his cross-field switch to Brandon Williams drifted to Everton keeper Jordan Pickford.
Within 60 seconds he was on the back foot, heading away at the back post after Andros Townsend had squeezed a cross past Williams on the left, also clearing from a similar situation a few minutes later.
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The youngster showed a cool head to find Max Aarons under pressure from Alex Iwobi in the 15th minute, as Norwich played their way out of trouble, which was followed by an eye-catching charge forward.
Kabak moved across to get in front of Iwobi in the 24th minute and strode through midfield, with a shimmy past Allan and a delicate touch to evade Abdoulaye Doucoure as he closed on the hosts’ penalty area, squaring to Aarons in space on the right – only for Teemu Pukki to waste the opening.
It was the sort of play that had built the defender’s reputation in the Bundesliga but was followed by the penalty concession five minutes later, as signs of rust returned.
Swinging at the ball as Allan bundled past Kenny McLean into the box, Kabak missed and made minimal contact with the midfielder's left thigh, who went down in the box.
McLean roared in accusation of a dive and initially referee David Coote signalled for a goal-kick but VAR advised a second viewing on the pitch-side screen and it was decided enough contact had been made – with Townsend beating Tim Krul from the spot.
It was clumsy but a harsh punishment, for such a soft foul to lead to a penalty.
Before the break, striker Salomon Rondon was held up in the box and robbed of possession and Kabak also teed up Mathias Normann for the dipping shot which was saved by Pickford just before half-time, after collecting a determined header from Gibson in space.
The second half left the Turk skating on thin ice, skewing a Townsend cross behind for a corner in the 50th minute and earning a booking soon after, sliding in to try and rob Rondon on halfway but clipping the striker in the process.
With City in the ascendancy as a team, Kabak set Aarons down the right and Lucas Digne was booked for chopping the wing-back down after being beaten for pace.
But a rapid Everton counter in the 61st minute would seal an early exit for the centre-back, after initially making an important block but then catching Demarai Gray late in a tackle on the edge of the box.
The second yellow didn’t arrive but eight minutes later it was Kabak sacrificed as Farke moved to a 4-2-3-1 shape to chase an equaliser, knowing he was already on his final warning from the referee, as he was replaced by winger Milot Rashica.
VERDICT: Clearly has top-flight ability and deserves some patience but it proved a forgettable day at Goodison Park for the former Liverpool loanee.
Was perhaps a bit unfortunate with both the penalty and the yellow card but both were avoidable and showed a lack of sharpness and experience.
The encouraging element is that Kabak is clearly capable of better but Farke needs to see that soon, particularly with a physical encounter awaiting at Burnley.
RATING: 5 out of 10
NCFC EXTRA: Normann’s passionate Canaries defence