POINTERS: Key observations from the Canaries' 3-1 win at QPR
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer delivers his verdict following the Canaries' 3-1 win at Queens Park Rangers which leaves them on the verge of the Championship title.
- Tale of two keepers
Seny Dieng’s rick in the first half was highlighted by Tim Krul’s importance at the other end.
The Holland international crucially denied QPR striker Lyndon Dykes with his feet in the 37th minute, just five minutes after Xavi Quintilla had given the visitors the lead.
It was his second penalty save of the season that was the defining moment of the game though, following on from the spot-kick stop at Rotherham in October which stopped the Millers going 2-0 up in a game Norwich went on to win 2-1.
On this occasion Krul left his feet trailing behind him to keep out Dykes’ effort, low and straight down the middle, before springing up to claim the loose ball before the Rs could claim a rebound.
It would have made it 1-1 and with Rangers playing much better in the second half it could have been worse, after City had deserved their 1-0 lead at the break.
- 1 Why a Premier League gamble makes no sense for Farke
- 2 Onel Hernandez reveals reason he got a Norwich City tattoo
- 3 Former City coach departs Ipswich Town
- 4 'I have to say I had more than one tear in my eye' - choked Farke on City duo's exit
- 5 PRESSER LIVE: Barnsley v City - No fresh injuries. Skipp and Pukki will be part of celebrations
- 6 Why Norwich City won't be a soft touch in the Premier League
- 7 Norwich City transfer rumours: Cardiff man once again linked
- 8 'Perfection' - Dowell on getting back to the big time with Canaries
- 9 When will Norwich City learn their Premier League fixtures?
- 10 Rosenborg set for talks with Tettey
- Magnificent McLean
He may not have been on the score-sheet but the honorary Mayor of Norwich was also crucial to getting back to winning ways and moving to the verge of the title.
Kenny McLean racked up his fourth and fifth assists of the season, the first with a sumptuous, curling cross from the left to the back post which Max Aarons made sure to make the most of shortly after Krul’s penalty save to put City 2-0 up.
QPR had rallied though and were really making a game of it after the introduction of Charlie Austin, with Dykes pulling a goal back to make it 2-1 in the 72nd minute.
In response, Daniel Farke had brought Jacob Sorensen on for Kieran Dowell and pushed McLean further forward in support of Teemu Pukki – and it paid off quickly.
The Scot nipped in to steal possession on the edge of the box and quickly picked out an unmarked Buendia on the far side of the box for the easiest of finishes.
He may not grab too many of the headlines but McLean has been an integral part of the Canaries’ success this season.
- Xavi's big moment
There’s been little concern about Xavi Quintilla’s attacking ability, although his crossing skills usually don't seem to quite fit City’s style. It’s his lack of defensive strength which has undermined his loan, when fit.
The Villarreal left-back took his moment though after being found in space on the left by Emi Buendia’s 16th assist of the season, in the 32nd minute, proving once again the old adage that if you don’t shoot, you don’t score.
Quintilla’s swerving, low effort curved back towards Dieng and seemed to confuse the keeper, with the ball squirming through his grasp and dropping over the line to open the scoring.
It was the 24-year-old's first goal for the Canaries and his first since October 2018, during a 1-1 draw at Barcelona B in the third tier of Spanish football for Villarreal B.
He has one more game to impress as Dimitris Giannoulis completes his three-match ban but will need more moments like this to earn a chance of a permanent move – and to show he can put his foot in defensively to prevent crosses, with the Rs' goal coming from his side.
- Dangerous Rangers
The leaders and champions-elect winning away to a team who have missed out on the play-offs won’t surprise many but it shouldn’t be forgotten that QPR were in excellent form.
They were looking for a fourth win on the spin, having won six of their last nine overall and all of their last three at home.
Their form in 2021 had included beating City’s promotion rivals Watford, Bournemouth, Brentford and Swansea – as Mark Warburton’s team set up a potentially good next season.
As they illustrated with their much better second half, the Rs are dangerous going forward and although 3-1 looks a comfortable result and the leaders had seven shots on target, the hosts also had five and made Norwich work hard for their win.
- More records
Victory brings a 28th success of the campaign for the Canaries, equalling the club’s second-tier record that was achieved by Nigel Worthington’s 2003-04 champions.
One more triumph during the last two games, at home to Reading and at Barnsley, will match the overall club record from the 2009-10 League One season – and of course confirm the title for this season.
Barnsley have already qualified for the play-offs so will not have anything to play for other than maintaining momentum.
That will be the case for Reading as well unless they beat Swansea on Sunday, ahead of their trip to Norfolk next Saturday.
City had already achieved a record 14th away win, which they have added another to, with the addition of another three points taking them to 48 points – which is the most any Norwich team has ever managed in a season.