Photo Gallery: Norwich City pass Burnley on way up
Norwich City 4, Burnley 1: The two managers were in agreement that it was Norwich City’s Premier League quality and experience that proved decisive in booking them a place in the FA Cup fourth round.
The Canaries for once made their higher status count in a cup-tie in no uncertain fashion as they swept aside Burnley to progress into the last 32 of the competition for only the third time in 15 years – with a trip to West Bromwich Albion, next weekend’s league opponents, their reward.
Yet the fact is that though City are rubbing shoulders with the elite this season and making a very good fist of it, too, they fielded more survivors than Burnley from the last meeting between the two sides at Championship level.
Paul Lambert’s chosen eleven for Saturday’s tie included no fewer than 10 of last season’s promotion-winning squad – defender Daniel Ayala being the odd man out – seven of whom were in the starting line-up at Turf Moor 11 months ago, when City were beaten 2-1.
They have clearly learned a great deal from their five months in the top flight, while Burnley, at least in defence, do not appear to be quite as tough a proposition on this evidence.
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But that should take nothing away from what was almost certainly City’s best FA Cup performance since they came close to knocking out eventual finalists Chelsea in a goalless draw at Carrow Road in 2002.
After goalkeeper Declan Rudd, appearing in the Canaries’ first match in the competition for the third season in a row, had kept out a couple of early piledrivers from Charlie Austin and the impressive Jay Rodriguez, City quickly stamped their authority on the game.
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Andrew Surman almost gave them the lead after a one-two with Russell Martin, when his shot was diverted wide, but with less than five minutes played, skipper Grant Holt instead obliged with his eighth goal of the season.
Surman’s corner was cleared to Wes Hoolahan, who crossed from the left for Holt to power a header past goalkeeper Lee Grant.
Simeon Jackson, for the second Saturday in a row, displayed his aerial prowess by powering home a cross from Adam Drury in the 12th minute to make it 2-0.
Burnley reduced the arrears inside three minutes when Jay Rodriguez directed the perfect header out of reach of Rudd from Ross Wallace’s free-kick after Drury was harshly penalised.
The Clarets took further encouragement when Holt spurned the chance to make it 3-1 on the half-hour. Austin blocked a cross-shot from Andrew Crofts and referee Mike Jones pointed straight to the penalty spot for handball, but Holt rolled his shot past Grant’s right-hand post, his first penalty miss in six attempts for the Canaries.
Rodriguez tested Rudd again from long range and Ayala did splendidly to stop Austin getting on the end of a cross from David Edgar at the near post as Burnley finished the half still within striking distance of their hosts.
But the second half was all Norwich, the Clarets not helped by losing Wallace to injury seven minutes after the break when he collided with team-mate Ben Mee.
There was a remarkable escape for Burnley in the 54th minute when Hoolahan’s crisp effort was brilliantly kept out by a one-handed save by Grant, but Holt, following up, struck the post and Jackson somehow managed to put the rebound wide.
It was 3-1 on the hour, however, thanks to a splendid finish from Surman.
Drury supplied the through-ball which Jackson managed to touch on into the path of Surman, despite being fouled in the process, and the midfielder coolly tucked the ball past Grant for his second goal of the season.
It was all over when a double change up front paid immediate dividends for City. Steve Morison and Aaron Wilbraham replaced Jackson and Holt, Morison scoring after 73 minutes – also his eighth goal of the season – with a simple tap-in. It was Drury again who set up Wilbraham for a neat shot on the turn that Grant managed to parry, but Morison knocked in the rebound.
For Lambert, City’s half-season in the tougher world of the Premier League was a factor in giving his side the edge over their Championship opponents.
“It doesn’t matter how you win as long as you get through, but I thought we dominated the game from start to finish,” he said.
“Burnley have been going well in the Championship themselves, but we’ve moved on, I hope, from last year. The Premier League does that to teams. The level and intensity you play at makes everybody step up to the plate and it was important we never came below that.
“Two goals gave us a nice foothold in it and Burnley put us back at 2-1 but I still thought we deserved to win and we dominated the ball, which was really pleasing.”