Pukki 12, 43, Cantwell 73
Luton Town F.C
Pukki at the double as City continue winning run against Luton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Teemu Pukki seemingly forgot to pack his goal-scoring boots despite Norwich City's victory over Brentford in midweek, but the Finnish international was back to his best as the Canaries extended their winning run to seven matches against Luton Town.
The Finnish international bagged a brace as City regained their 10 point lead at the top of the Championship after seeing it cut short when Watford beat Chris Hughton's Nottingham Forest at lunchtime.
Despite a strong start that saw James Collins hit the post inside the opening 10 minutes, City controlled the game for large periods. Pukki's opening goal burst the Hatters bubble and Nathan Jones' side never recovered.
Pukki was sharp and back to his best after squandering several big chances in the first half, his double has moved him onto 20 goals for the season. Todd Cantwell added a third in the second half.
Both sides elected to make changes to their starting XI as the relentless scheduling in the Championship continues.
Cantwell returned to the side after recovering from a minor calf injury, replacing Cuban winger Onel Hernandez who dropped to the bench. Joining him was Mario Vrancic, who was named amongst the substitutes.
Replacing him in midfield was Lukas Rupp. The German midfielder put in two decent cameos from the bench during wins over Wycombe Wanderers and Brentford earlier this week.
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Hatters boss Jones rang the changes, with five players coming into the side despite the Hatters recording back-to-back wins in the league.
Martin Cranie replaced Jordan Clark at right-back and Ireland striker James Collins came into attack. George Moncur, Luke Berry and Tom Ince all returned to the midfield.
Luton had a golden opportunity to open the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes. The Hatters broke effectively after Cantwell was caught in possession. Berry teed up Ince but the Stoke loanee scuffed his effort. It fell into the path of Collins, whose sliding effort came off the post.
All of the early pressure came through the visitors. A poor touch from Pukki allowed Matty Pearson to turn his man and unleash a long-range shot at goal. The midfielder's curling effort was off-target.
It was the Canaries who took the lead against the run of play. Rupp's cute pass allowed Cantwell to gallop into the Hatters' box before teeing up Pukki, who emphatically finished into the top right corner to open the scoring.
The Finnish international could have had a second after 30 minutes, a slick counter-attack saw Cantwell feed Pukki through on goal. He turned Kal Naismith but Simon Sluga was equal to his effort.
Norwich were in the ascendancy after the opening goal, with Luton's intensity dropping and grip on the encounter slipping.
The Hatters were punished for a catalogue of errors as Pukki netted his second of the afternoon as Buendia's deflected shot fell kindly for the Finn to convert at the back post.
Moments later, Pukki's nearly completed his hat-trick with a clever piece of improvisation that saw him flick Buendia's pass towards goal with his heel. The audacious shot was dipping into the net before Sluga tipped it over the bar.
Luton substitute Elijah Adebayo offered the visitors a more physical focal point at the top of the pitch, meaning Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson faced a very different challenge during the last 30 minutes than they did in the opening hour.
Norwich extended their lead through Cantwell on 73 minutes.
Buendia's reverse pass sent the Dereham-born midfielder away on the left. He skipped past Cranie before firing low past Sluga into the net.
City's dominance continued and their captain nearly added a fourth when Dimitris Giannoulis' shot from a corner fell into his path. Hanley turned the ball goalwards but it trickled wide of the post.
Jacob Sorensen had a chance to add gloss to the scoreline but failed to hit the target from Buendia's corner from close range.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Giannoulis; Skipp, McLean (Idah, 86); Buendia (Dowell, 82), Rupp (Sorensen, 78), Cantwell (Hernandez, 78); Pukki (Hugill, 82). Subs not used: Barden (GK), Zimmermann, Tettey, Vrancic
- Bookings: None
- Goals: Pukki 12, 43, Cantwell 73
- Luton Town (4-3-2-1): Sluga; Cranie, Pearson (C), Naismith, Potts; Desbury-Hall (Bree, 78), Moncur (Mpanzu, 61), Berry (Clark, 45), Tunnicliffe; Ince (Cornick, 61), Collins (Adebayo, 61). Subs not used: Shea (GK), Morrell, Hylton, Nombe
- Bookings: None
- Goals: None
- Added on time: 1 min/ 3 mins
- Referee: David Webb