Photo Gallery: De Laet shows his eye for goal
Defender Ritchie de Laet chalked up his first Carrow Road goal for Norwich City and admitted: “You have to take your chance when you can.”
The Belgian centre-half, on loan from Manchester United, headed the Canaries in front after 15 minutes of last night’s pre-season friendly against La Liga side Real Zaragoza, a goal that was cancelled out on the stroke of half-time by Brualio Nobrega.
The 1-1 draw with the Spanish club was bad-tempered at times and was interrupted for more than 10 minutes in the second half by a lightning strike that plunged parts of the stadium into darkness.
But De Laet was pleased with his night’s work against European opposition – and another goal on the ground after scoring for a United XI in a friendly at Norwich in 2009.
He said: “I like to go forward, get in the box and get my head on things, so tonight it came off with a goal.
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“We don’t get there a lot as defenders, so if we do get there we try to do something about it and today it came off.”
He added: “It’s a step up, foreign opposition – another style, they try to keep the ball like teams in the Premier League do so it was good for us today being able to run around the pitch and get our fitness up.
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“It’s a friendly but you still want to win the game. If the ball there is to be tackled we will and the other team did it as well – it’s a game of football, friendly or not.”
The lightning strike during a thunderstorm just over an hour into the game did not disturb the 22-year-old De Laet.
“At Portsmouth last season, we had it three times in one game, so it’s nothing new for me,” he said.
Manager Paul Lambert had a mixed night on the injury front with Andrew Crofts and Chris Martin missing the match, but winger Anthony Pilkington playing his first 20 minutes since arriving from Huddersfield, where he suffered a broken leg in March.
“Crofty’s had an ankle knock from the Coventry game and Chris has a little problem with his hamstring, but we’ll have to wait and see how they are,” said Lambert.
As for Pilkington, Lambert was delighted: “I thought he lifted the game when he came on. I thought he looked very good. It’s a big bonus for us to have him back. He’s worked really hard with the fitness lads here.”
The City boss made just four substitutions, in contrast to last week’s three warm-up matches, where 21 players were used.
“We thought the lads that started, we’d try to get most of them through the game and it will be the same on Saturday against Parma,” he said.