‘Really pleasing’ - City skipper so relieved that Vrancic found deserved winner against Blues
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Grant Hanley admits nerves were building for Norwich City after failing to make the breakthrough against Birmingham, before a rush of relief as Mario Vrancic finally forced a deserved breakthrough.
The Canaries had dominated their last home game against Derby prior to the international break, only to be hit by a sucker-punch as Wayne Ronney curled in a late free-kick for the Rams.
This time City did manage to find the goal their play deserved, with substitute Vrancic sweeping home in the 87th minute after Emi Buendia had played Adam Idah into the box - with the Blues rattled after seeing midfielder Adam Clayton sent off less than two minutes earlier.
“These games are tough,” said Hanley. “When you play against a team that are set up well defensively it almost feels like the longer you go without scoring, the harder it gets and people get nervy - almost they’ve (the opposition) got a better chance of nicking it.
“That’s football and that’s this league, that’s how teams set up. So I think we just have to stick to our game plan, not get nervous and not change the way we play, just keep doing what we’re doing, trust that it’s going to pay off for us - and it did.”
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It’s the first time Daniel Farke’s team have won back-to-back games since wrapping up the Championship title at Aston Villa in May 2019, after Hanley had returned from three months out with a hamstring injury during the 2-1 win at Rotherham on Saturday.
“Back to back wins in the Championship is never easy,” the Scot continued. “When the games come thick and fast, if you can put a run of wins together then you seem to jump up the table quite quickly.
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“So especially after Saturday, which was a really tough game for us, we’re happy to show that sort of team spirit, coming back from a losing position and then a tough game again in a different way, in terms of a team that are really organised and really hard to break down.
“To pull through with another late goal is really pleasing.”
Todd Cantwell returned after three games out of the firing line, after Daniel Farke felt the 22-year-old had been distracted by transfer speculation, and was one of the stars of a dominant display against the Blues.
City enjoyed 73 percent of possession and had 23 shots at goal, with Cantwell and Buendia pulling the attacking strings having remained with the club beyond the closure of the summer transfer window.
The Canaries skipper said: “Everyone knows we’ve got a youngish squad so it’s up to, not just myself but the other older lads, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and pulling in the right direction.
“But to be fair to the lads, they’re so professional and they know that everyone’s got to stick together because we are fighting for the same thing, so it’s pretty easy to get everybody going.”
Now the 28-year-old Scotland international is feeling hopeful for the season ahead - if Farke’s team can continue building momentum and reclaiming confidence.
He added: “We’ve got loads of quality in our squad and we know we’ve got a team together that can be successful, so it’s up to the lads to work hard to get what we want.”