Buendia sees red as City frustrated by streetwise Boro
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Emi Buendia saw red as Norwich City were left frustrated at Carrow Road by Neil Warnock's adept and streetwise Middlesbrough side.
The Argentine received a second booking after being judged to have fouled George Saville, although replays showed the decision was a harsh one.
Boro were impressive all afternoon and limited City to very little from an offensive perspective. The Canaries moved seven points clear of second-placed Swansea City ahead of the 3pm kick-offs.
New signing Dimitris Giannoulis was thrown straight into the side for his debut after gaining his work permit required to complete his move from PAOK earlier this week. That saw Jacob Sorensen dropped despite an impressive stretch of games in an unfamiliar position.
Daniel Farke was forced into making two changes, with Jordan Hugill's hamstring injury creating an opening for Canaries' top-scorer Teemu Pukki to return to the team after recovering from a side strain. Lukas Rupp came in for Kenny McLean, who is still in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
Boro boss Warnock described the last seven days as a 'week from hell' prior to kick-off, but was boosted by the signings of Darnell Fisher from Preston and Yannick Bolasie on loan from Everton. Both made their debuts at Carrow Road.
Dael Fry was fit enough to start despite suffering a nasty gash to the eye in their defeat to Blackburn Rovers last Sunday. Former City favourite Jonny Howson returned to Carrow Road and Patrick Roberts was amongst the subs as Warnock made four changes from the side who were thumped by Rotherham in midweek.
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The Canaries' first opening of the game arrived through Mario Vrancic. Grant Hanley was granted spaced to roam into and found the Bosnian on the edge of the area. He slalomed past two defenders in the area before dragging his shot wide.
Middlesbrough were employing the dark arts, with Marc Bola shepherding Buendia and Fisher man-marking Cantwell throughout.
It was through a set-piece that Boro carved out their first opening of the game. Buendia's foul on Bola saw Marvin Johnson whip in a free-kick from the left-side. Bolasie met the ball but his powerful header kept rising over the bar.
Boro made it a frustrating opening period for City, shackling their main attacking outlets and then growing into the fixture themselves.
Giannoulis' burst down the left saw him collect the ball and pick out Rupp in the area. His drive was blocked. City took the resulting corner quickly, with Cantwell picking out the Greek full-back but he scooped his effort over the bar.
From there the game opened up, both sides flooded forward on the counter. The best chance fell to Howson, who headed a corner straight at Krul.
The flashpoint in the game came as Buendia caught Saville. Despite the Argentine attempting to pull out of the challenge, Keith Stroud brought the appeals of Saville and his teammates.
Buendia will miss City's trips to Millwall and Swansea next week, with this dismissal being his second of the season.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Giannoulis; Skipp, Rupp; Buendia, Vrancic (Placheta, 69), Cantwell (Hernandez, 76); Pukki (Idah, 87). Subs not used: Barden (GK), Zimmermann, Mumba, Sorensen, Tettey, Dowell.
- Bookings: Buendia (foul on Howson, 41), Skipp (foul on Morsy, 90+7)
- Red card: Buendia (second bookable offence, 67)
- Middlesbrough (4-5-1): Bettinelli; Fisher (Coulson, 86), Fry (Watmore, 89), McNair, Bola; Spence, Morsy, Howson (C), Saville Johnson; Bolasie (Akpom, 56). Subs not used: Archer (GK), Hall, Wing, Roberts, Assombalonga, Fletcher
- Bookings: Saville (foul on Skipp, 73), Howson (foul on Hernandez, 90)
- Added on time: 1 min/ 5 mins
- Referee: Keith Stroud