Norwich City 1 Birmingham City 0 report: Nelson Oliveira proves the difference as Canaries bounce back
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City have got their Championship season back on track with a desperately needed 1-0 victory over Birmingham City at Carrow Road.
The win came courtesy of Nelson Oliveira’s fourth goal of the season in just the fifth minute and saw the Canaries bounce back from conceding four goals in poor defeats in successive games before the international break.
Daniel Farke made five changes to the team which started the 4-0 defeat at Millwall, with Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann taking over in the centre of defence but Russell Martin and Marcel Franke not in the squad at all, with new signing Grant Hanley among the substitutes.
James Husband dropped to the bench and Marco Stipermann replaced him at left-back and in midfield Alex Tettey and Tom Trybull came in for Harrison Reed and Wes Hoolahan.
Harry Redknapp’s visiting side featured seven changes from their 2-0 home loss to Reading last time out, new signings Maxime Colin, Harlee Dean and Jota all starting after switching for Brentford, with fellow new boys Jason Lowe, Everton loanee Liam Walsh and Chelsea loanee Jeremie Boga all come in to the team.
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It was an ideal start for the Canaries as Oliveira scored his fourth goal of the season in just the fifth minute.
Mario Vrancic fired across a corner from the right which was headed clear only as far as Klose at the far post, who hooked the ball goalwards to allow Oliveira to make sure the ball crossed the line at the back post.
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Otherwise it was a fairly comfortable half for the hosts, with Josh Murphy testing David Stockdale with a low shot and Tettey blazing over after a quick counter, with the visitors receiving four yellow cards as they battled to contain City.
After the break Oliveira curled an early long-range effort just wide and was set free on the right in the 52nd minute by Vrancic’s superb pass, only for Harlee Dean to narrowly avoid putting the ball in to his own net at the near post.
The Blues were playing with a greater sense of urgency though, with Zimmermann making a fine double block from former Norwich loanee Jonathan Grounds in his box and substitute Che Adams firing a low shot wide from 25 yards as heavy rain fell.
Boga went over easily in City’s box under pressure from Vrancic in the 66th minute but referee Simon Hooper waved away the appeal and the Frenchman gave little in the way of protest.
Jason Lowe’s wayward header allowed Oliveira clean through in the 75th minute and he played Murphy into the box, only to see the winger’s low shot roll beyond the far post.
Oliveira, fresh from scoring for Portugal during the break, bent another ambitious shot just wide of the top-left corner on his left foot from 25 yards in the 82nd minute and the visitors ran out of steam as City worked hard to keep their lead – with the Carrow Road crowd roaring them on in the nervy closing stages.
The Canaries return to action on Tuesday when they welcome Burton Albion to Carrow Road for more Championship action.
Norwich: Gunn; Pinto (C), Zimmermann, Klose, Stiepermann; Trybull, Tettey, Vrancic (Wildschut 67); Maddison (Hanley 90+2), Oliveira, Murphy (Husband 89). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Reed, Jerome, Hoolahan
Goal: Oliveira (5)
Booked: Tettey, foul on Jota (37)
Birmingham: Stockdale; Colin, Morrison (C), Dean, Grounds, Lowe (Ndoye 78), Davis, Walsh (Adams 57), Boga, Jota, Gallagher (Jutkiewicz 78). Unused subs: Kuszczak (GK), Roberts, Gardner, Maghoma
Booked: Colin, foul on Murphy (24), Walsh, foul on Maddison (36), Lowe, foul on Stiepermann (43), Dean, on Vrancic (45+1), Davis, foul on Oliveira (80)
Referee: Simon Hooper