Norwich City 1-2 Wolves - Canaries left to rue missed chances in festive encounter
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City were left to rue missed opportunities as they were beaten 2-1 by Wolverhampton Wanderers at Carrow Road.
Todd Cantwell's first-half strike was cancelled out by Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez as the visitors came from behind to win in Norfolk. The defeat leaves City 19th in the Premier League table, six points behind Southampton who were victorious at Villa Park this afternoon.
Ben Godfrey's absence meant a return to the City side for Grant Hanley, who featured in his first Premier League match for three months. Godfrey's minor knee injury is set to keep him side-lined until February.
The Scot took the armband in City's only enforced change, with Daniel Farke looking to retain the continuity he has lacked this season due to persistent injury problems.
The Canaries were looking to build on the positive result at high-flying Leicester City last weekend as they continue to battle against the drop.
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Wolves were also unchanged despite their last-gasp defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday. The only change saw ex-City youth prospect Benny Ashley-Seal replaced by Real Madrid loanee Jesus Vallejo on the bench. Ex-Canaries John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett were also among the substitutes.
The opening exchanges saw City dominate possession with Wolves content with absorbing the passages of play. The Canaries carved their first opportunity in the opening 10 minutes, with a mazy run by Emi Buendia finding Kenny McLean in the left-hand side of the area, but his effort was saved wonderfully by Rui Patricio.
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Moments later, Buendia was the architect again as City came forward with intent. He found Pukki in the box, but his effort was saved low by the Wolves keeper.
City's dominance continued as Alex Tettey exchanged passes with Buendia before drilling a left-footed effort that look destined for the bottom corner, but Patricio dived to his right to produce a stunning fingertip save to push the ball onto the post.
On 17 minutes, City made their superiority count as they took the lead courtesy of Todd Cantwell. He found McLean down the left with a chipped pass; the Scot drove to the by-line before producing a cross which Jonny could only clear into the path of Cantwell who smashed it into the back of the net.
Wolves had their goalkeeper to thank again after Buendia played Teemu Pukki through on goal. The Finn looked to calmly slot the ball into the net but was denied by the Portuguese international's foot.
The visitors began to pile on pressure as they searched for a response, but City were the team constructing chances with Christoph Zimmermmann and Pukki blasting efforts over the bar.
Wolves carelessness in possession gifted Buendia the ball again, he threaded it through to Pukki who, once again, had a clear sight of goal but didn't test Patricio with his effort. City were praying they wouldn't come to rue those chances squandered come full-time.
The visitors looked to press with a greater intent after the break, suffocating City into their defensive third. When Farke reiterated how the Canaries needed to be confident in possession to counter act Wolves' threat on the break, that was displayed as Wolves sought to win the ball in high positions on the pitch.
Buendia was the creator in chief as City looked for a second goal but, on this occasion, the Argentine elected to unleash an effort that went agonisingly over the bar.
City's failure to convert their chances did come back to haunt them, as they conceded from another set-piece.
Wolves played the corner short before Joao Moutinho curled a ball towards the back post where Romain Saiss was waiting to head past Krul into the back of the net. Six of the last eight goals conceded by City have been from set-pieces.
Zimmermann's poor pass allowed Wolves to burst forward with pace on the 67th minute, as Raul Jimenez worked the ball to the pacey Adama Traore who was allowed to run into space. His effort was then deflected over the bar by Hanley.
Wolves were beginning to create overloads on the counter, with Traore causing problems down the right. That source was proving profitable, with his cross to the back post finding Jonny but his header was blocked by the recovering Max Aarons.
Pukki had a low drive saved well by Patricio late on but it was Wolves who claimed the three points, with City's inability to sew two productive halves together exposed again.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1):Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley (C), Byram; Tettey (Hernandez 86), Trybull (Vrancic 86); Buendia, McLean, Cantwell (Srbeny 86); Pukki. Subs not used: Fahrmann (GK), Lewis, Amadou, Stiepermann
- Bookings: Byram, Hanley
- Goals: Cantwell 17
- Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady (C), Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez (Cutrone 90+3), Jota (Neto 76). Subs: Ruddy (GK), Vallejo, Bennett, Vinagre, Kilman
- Bookings: Jonny, Saiss, Moutinho, Doherty
- Goals: Saiss 60, Jimenez 81
- Added on time: 1 min/ 6 mins
- Referee: Peter Bankes
- VAR: Jonathan Moss