Vrancic stepped in perfectly for City to score incredible goal and grab the promotion spotlight
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our latest Norwich City player kept a close eye on match-winner Mario Vrancic as the midfielder played a key role in a memorable win over Blackburn which sealed promotion to the Premier League.
The Bosnia & Herzegovina international midfielder returned in place of the injured Tom Trybull, making his first start since the 3-0 home win over Ipswich, when he damaged ankle ligaments.
Here’s how the 29-year-old’s memorable evening unfolded...
1 – Wins an early header to get Onel Hernandez away on the left amid a frantic start and a brilliant atmosphere. Kenny McLean sitting slightly deeper of the central midfield two.
6 – Chips a nice ball forward from the left, from near the halfway line, Teemu Pukki chests down but Marco Stiepermann can only fire over on his weaker right foot.
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7 – Beaten for pace in midfield by Amari’I Bell but McLean covers and then Vrancic intercepts the pass. City attack and the midfielder tries to chip Max Aarons in behind the Rovers defence but pass is heavy.
8 – Under-hits a simple pass but Ben Godfrey stays strong to win the ball and set Jamal Lewis away, then Hernandez hits a low shot just beyond the far post on the turn.
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11 – Two good interceptions in quick succession, on Bradley Dack and then Danny Graham, finds Hernandez on the left but weak shot into the side-netting. In the thick of City’s passing play early on.
13 – ASSIST – Buendia with a great pass but Hernandez doesn’t shoot, loses the ball but Vrancic crucially wins the ball back from Rodwell on the edge of the box and tees up Stiepermann, who finds the bottom-right corner for 1-0.
16 – Spreads from the right to Godfrey in space, who hands over to Buendia, the Argentine turns and lashes a low shot just beyond the right-hand post.
21 – GOAL – Buendia turns to him in space in the Rovers half, pushes forward and unleashes a rocket off the outside of his left boot to find the top-left corner from 25 yards superbly for 2-0.
23 – McLean blocks Bell cross, breaks to Lewis Travis on the edge of the box, Vrancic can’t get there to block and gets a slight deflection past Krul as Rovers make it 2-1.
26 – Again a bit slow to get in front of Travis as Bell crosses from the left but Godfrey steps up to stop the shot this time.
27 – Skips away from Adam Armstrong and threads a lovely ball to Pukki in the left channel, striker cuts back to Stiepermann and keeper reads the shot well to get down and save.
34 – Elliott Bennett swings in a free-kick from the right for the visitors, Vrancic is nudged by Armstrong in the box and his header awkwardly skews across goal but City clear their lines.
39 – Intercepts a Bell clearance on the right, gets City moving over to the left and Buendia eventually lashes just over.
42 – Dummies to pass back to Christoph Zimmermann, drops his shoulder and turns away from Graham in the centre circle, clips a pass out to Lewis on the left and Hernandez fires just wide.
53 – Lovely one-two with Zimmermann on halfway and finds Buendia, who is fouled by Dack in midfield.
56 – Buendia nutmeg and Vrancic lovely first-time pass to Hernandez on the left, cuts on to his right and blasts against the crossbar.
57 – Goes down seeming to have rolled his ankle, hops around and hobbles for a bit, playing a poor pass out of play on the left, but seems okay to continue.
61 – Chips a ball to Aarons on the right, who takes a great touch but after exchange with Buendia lashes over.
62 – Slides in and cleanly dispossess Travis in midfield.
70 – Can’t quite make clean contact with a header at the near post as Buendia swings in a corner from the left.
74 – Wins possession, Stiepermann battles to keep the ball and Hernandez is clean through but tries to square to Pukki and Bell scrambles clear.
79 – Poor square pass from Hernandez and robbed by Rothwell, McLean gets up well to win the header but then Vrancic is clearly barged over by Craig Conway, no free-kick given and Blackburn can keep pushing.
90+3 – Desperate tackle on Conway as City scramble clear under late pressure.
VERDICT: Totally deserved his start and showed exactly why, with a second goal and second assist in three games. Also put his foot in and drove City forward, scoring a breathtaking winner which will be remembered for a long, long time – and is worth at least £150million.
Nine goals and 10 assists from 37 games for Vrancic now, not bad at all for a man who missed all of pre-season and the first six games with a groin injury. Has played an absolutely crucial role for Daniel Farke.
RATING: 9 out of 10