QPR thwart Canaries in feisty Carrow Road battle
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City were thwarted by Queens Park Rangers in a feisty game featuring eight yellow cards and two penalties at Carrow Road, finishing in a 1-1 draw.
The chaotic encounter saw spot-kicks from Teemu Pukki and Bright Osayi-Samuel decide the match in the final quarter, as City’s lead at the top of the Championship table extended to five points.
Daniel Farke opted to make just one change to his starting XI, with Mario Vrancic replacing Kieran Dowell in attacking midfield after a bright display from the bench during the 1-0 loss at Watford on Boxing Day.
Lukas Rupp dropped back out of the squad however, after a brief cameo on Saturday after his hamstring issues, making it eight players unavailable on a frosty night including Tim Krul, Przemek Placheta and Onel Hernandez.
QPR boss Mark Warburton also made one change, replacing Macauley Bonne in attack with Osayi-Samuel as the struggling visitors looked to end a run of eight games without a win and just two goals in their last six.
The Canaries meanwhile knew they had the chance to stretch their lead at the summit to seven points, with none of their nearest rivals in action until the following evening.
It proved a frustrating opening half though, with Emi Buendia blasting a shot at Rs’ keeper Seny Dieng in the sixth minute and the Argentine threading Vrancic into the right channel seven minutes later, only for his shot across the keeper to lack the required power.
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Vrancic fired wide after exchanging a nice one-two with Max Aarons, with speculative efforts from Tom Carroll and Niko Hamalainen for Rangers either side of that effort.
QPR grew in confidence as the half went on though and their pressing improved, with a vital interception needed from Christoph Zimmermann after Grant Hanley had misjudged a tackle on Osayi-Samuel on the left.
Soon after, in the 34th minute, it was Rangers defender Geoff Cameron with the crucial block at the other end after a lovely pass from Kenny McLean was well controlled by Buendia.
Hanley tamely headed over from the Buendia corner but the half had a late twist as Canaries keeper Michael McGovern pulled up looking uncomfortable after a clearance, diving awkwardly as Lyndon Dykes headed a late chance wide.
Wales Under-19 international Daniel Barden, who had made his senior debut during the 3-1 loss at Luton in the League Cup in September, was straight out for a warm-up as the half-time whistle blew and his Championship and Carrow Road debut arrived after the break with the score still at 0-0.
Any nerves the towering 19-year-old might have had were swiftly settled by a couple of good kicks and the hosts sprung into life as QPR’s pressing ran out of energy.
Pukki was convinced he’d been pulled back by Yoann Barbet as he was about to pull the trigger on a Todd Cantwell pass and Hanley headed a Buendia cross on to the roof of the net.
Then it was Buendia testing Dieng, before Cantwell had the ball in the back of the net in the 55th minute – only to be denied by an offside flag which left City furious.
Cantwell had appeared offside as Vrancic played Pukki into the box but was clearly behind the ball as the Finn squared it to him to tap in from close range. The linesman had presumably judged it as the same phase of play to consider Cantwell offside – but that didn’t stop Farke and his coaches from exploding with rage 30 seconds later after they had seen a replay.
The game had exploded into life and Dieng did well to tip a Pukki shot around his post soon after, before Hanley made a crucial tackle on Ilais Chair at the other end in the 60th minute.
Jacob Sorensen saw a shot cleared off the line by Rs’ defender Rob Dickie as City pushed incessantly for the opening goal.
It was QPR’s turn to be furious next, as the breakthrough finally came from the penalty spot. Dominic Ball had just been booked for raking his studs down Cantwell’s calf in midfield and as City attacked Cantwell’s stepover led to a collision with the same player in the box.
Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Pukki made no mistake for his 11th goal of the campaign, sending the keeper the wrong way to slot into the bottom-right corner.
Barden blocked a Ball header on his line after a corner as the visitors tried to respond but then he couldn’t seize the spotlight as Rangers got their own penalty with 15 minutes remaining.
Zimmermann challenged Osayi-Samuel - who went down after minor contact - and the same player blasted past the youngster, from the spot who had guessed the correct direction, into the top-right corner.
Barden was in the right place to tip an inadvertent Hanley header over his bar two minutes after the goal and City threw on Jordan Hugill and Dowell ahead of five added minutes, replacing Cantwell and Sorensen in a switch to a 3-5-2.
Hugill saw a header held in injury-time against his former club but there was to be a huge let off at the other end, as a cross from the right from substitute Albert Adomah was somehow put over the bar by Osayi-Samuel from point-blank range.
Next up for the Canaries is another home game, against Barnsley on Saturday (3pm).
NORWICH (4-2-3-1): McGovern (Barden 46); Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley (C), Sorensen (Hugill 89); Skipp, McLean; Buendia, Vrancic, Cantwell (Dowell 89); Pukki. Unused subs: Gibson, Omobamidele, Quintilla, Tettey, Martin, Omotoye
Booked: Zimmermann (foul on Osayi-Samuel, 84), McLean (dissent, 84), Skipp (foul on, Dickie, 90)
Goals: Pukki (pen 76)
QPR (3-4-3): Dieng; Dickie, Cameron (C), Barbet; Kane, Carroll, Ball, Hamalainen; Dykes (Bonne 70), Chair (Adomah 71), Osayi-Samuel. Unused subs: Kelly (GK), Masterson, Thomas, Willock, Bettache, Duke-McKenna, Kelman
Booked: Kane (foul on Pukki, 23), Ball (foul on Cantwell, 73), Dickie (dissent, 76), Carroll (time-wasting, 89), Adomah (90+4, foul on Vrancic)
Goals: Osayi-Samuel (pen 84)
REFEREE: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)