Matches catch up with Johansson

Norwich City super sub Jonatan Johansson was all smiles at the weekend after bouncing back from a distinctly low-key display in the best possible fashion.

Norwich City super sub Jonatan Johansson was all smiles at the weekend after bouncing back from a distinctly low-key display in the best possible fashion.

The on-loan Finnish striker had to be content with a place on the bench against Stoke after being substituted at half-time in his side's previous match at Crystal Palace - and didn't see any action until the 86th minute, when an exhausted Leon McKenzie was withdrawn from the fray.

But he still had time to put his unhappy experience at Selhurst Park behind him as netted his third goal in seven appearances for the Canaries to secure a much needed 2-1 victory.

Johansson revealed afterwards that he had no argument about being dropped for the game and was just relieved to have got a chance to stake a claim for a recall to the City starting line-up.

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“Everyone wants to play but I have to look at it realistically,” said the Norwich goal hero. “The Crystal Palace game was poor and I think the games were catching up with me. I haven't played much for six months and all of a sudden I have played six games in three or four weeks.

“It was a quiet game for me and nothing much happened. The manager had to make some changes after that and I was one of the victims. That happens in football and it is something you just have to accept.

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“When I came here my focus was on my football and if I can do that hopefully everything else will fall together. Obviously I would like to play against Leeds next week but I don't have to make decisions like that, and that's fine by me. It has given the manager something to think about, that is all I can say.”

Saturday's game appeared to be heading for a instantly forgettable 1-1 draw, which would have piled still more pressure on the shoulders of Nigel Worthington, when Johansson made his crucial contribution. Moments after Robert Green had made a superb save to keep his side on level terms, the flying Finn latched on to an inch-perfect pass from Paul McVeigh and showed a cool head to beat keeper Steve Simonsen, with time appearing to stand still before he stroked the ball home.

The Charlton striker was pleased with the finish - and felt that justice was done when the ball hit the back of the net.

“I saw Paul in a good position so I made the run and he picked me out perfectly. It was a great pass,” he said.

“I was going to shoot a little bit quicker but I realised I was alone there so I decided to take my time. I wanted to make the keeper make the first move and when he went down I was able to stick it away.

“It was great save by Robert moments earlier - and that was the break we needed, I feel, after the performance at Crystal Palace. That header looked as though it was goal, and Robert did brilliantly to keep the ball out - and then we scored from our next attack.

“I think we deserved the win. It was a scrappy game but we were the better team. We worked really hard and it's just a shame we conceded a goal so soon after we opened the scoring. When we went 1-0 up and I thought we were going to push on and win comfortably but unfortunately it didn't work out like that. Fair play to Stoke, they had some good players and pushed us hard, but we came through in the end and that is very pleasing.”

The goal help lift the spirits at Carrow Road after a tense afternoon that had started with a fans' protest against Worthington outside the ground. The atmosphere remained strained to say the least when the game got under way, and Johansson picked up on the negative vibes - even though he didn't let them affect him.

“We were aware what was happening but, as players, it's something you just have to ignore,” he said. “If you start thinking about stuff like that on the pitch then you are going to play badly. You have to leave that behind and do your best.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room was good. We sat down together beforehand and said we were going to have a good game.

“I have played in front of frustrated crowds before and you just have to get on with it.

“Hopefully my goal will have cheered them up a bit - and I know it cheered me up!”

As for what the future holds when his loan deal expires at the end of the season, Johansson isn't ruling out a full-time move to Carrow Road - but he is keeping his options well and truly open at the moment.

“I came here to play and do my best - everything else will have to wait,” he concluded. “All I can say is that I am open minded about what the future holds.”

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