Newcastle United 0-0 Norwich City - City fail to convert chances in St James’ Park stalemate
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City were left to rue squandered opportunities on Tyneside on Saturday, with the Canaries recording a goalless draw against Newcastle United.
Teemu Pukki went closest for City, but saw multiple efforts saved by United keeper Martin Dubravka.
Steve Bruce made three changes to his side following their dramatic 2-2 draw with Everton a fortnight ago but resisted the temptation of starting both his new signings, with Valentino Lazaro and Danny Rose named on the bench.
Their search for additional firepower in the January window was unsuccessful, so big-money summer signing Joelinton spearheaded the Magpies attack. Loan signing Nabil Bentaleb partnered Isaac Hayden in central midfield.
City named an unchanged XI from the side who were narrowly defeated by Tottenham Hotspur, with Todd Cantwell passed fit following a hamstring injury. Emi Buendia was among the substitutes, with January additions Lukas Rupp and Ondrej Duda operating behind Pukki.
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Mario Vrancic's impressive performance during City's FA Cup victory over Burnley last weekend earned him a place on the bench. Kenny McLean was deployed alongside the dependable Alex Tettey, making that Daniel Farke's most favoured duo in the centre of City's midfield.
United had the first sighting of goal, when a switch of play allowed the pacey Allan Saint-Maximin to run at City's defence. He cut inside and hit a shot, but his effort was gathered comfortably by Tim Krul.
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City were enjoying the majority of possession in the opening exchanges and Duda's clever pass into Byram allowed the left-back to drive into the box. His attempted cross got blocked, but the pair combined again from the corner, with Byram's fierce header saved well by Dubravka.
In possession, bypassing the congested defensive block employed by the hosts was proving testing. Duda opted for a more direct route and sought to pick out McLean's run, only for Federico Fernandez to head clear.
The ball dropped to Teemu Pukki, who controlled with his right before hitting a dipping volley towards goal, which was tipped over the bar by Dubravka.
City survived a scare soon after, when DeAndre Yedlin's cross was met at the back post by Joelinton. He diverted his header across goal, and Krul saved well but Miguel Almiron should have converted the rebound, only to miss the target entirely.
Pukki was sent racing clear after Duda's flick-on found Rupp. The Finn composed himself before striking but Fernandez recovered superbly to block the effort with a lunging tackle.
City's spells of possession resumed following the interval, with Duda aiding the progression of the ball through the thirds.
It was the Slovakian's corner that produced another gilt-edged chance for the Canaries, with McLean meeting the ball at the front post only for his header to go off-target.
Saint-Maximin was still proving to be a potent force in wide areas for United, and his cross was sliced towards goal by Grant Hanley but Krul pushed it wide.
From the resulting corner, City broke after an excellent touch by Duda and, via Cantwell, Rupp received the ball on the right. His cross found Pukki in the box, but the Finn couldn't keep his shot down.
United's offensive output was sourced predominantly by Saint-Maximin, and they found the winger in a dangerous area on the left-hand side again. The Frenchman curled an effort towards goal, only for Krul to save.
City's prolificacy was beginning to cost them, this time Pukki robbed Jamal Lascelles of the ball before exchanging passes with Duda. He raced through again but his sidefooted effort was saved well by Dubravka.
The ball rebounded off Lascelles and was heading for the net, but the defender cleared from the line. That clearance fell to Duda, but his strike crashed into the side-netting.
City's failure to convert chances once again leaves them asking, 'what if'. They managed to unlock the door on numerous occasions, but quality in front of goal proved to be in short supply.
- Newcastle United (4-5-1): Dubravka; Yedlin (Lazaro, 54), Fernandez, Lascelles (C), Clark, Ritchie; Hayden (S Longstaff, 56), Bentaleb, Almiron, Saint-Maximin (Rose, 78); Joelinton. Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Schar, Lejeune, Atsu
- Bookings: Yedlin, Bentaleb
- Goals: None.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley (C), Byram; Tettey (Hernandez, 86), McLean; Rupp (Vrancic, 89); Duda, Cantwell (Buendia, 67); Pukki. Subs not used: Fahrmann (GK), Lewis, Trybull, Drmic
- Bookings: Cantwell
- Goals: None.
- Added on time: 2 mins/ 4 mins
- Attendance: 52,204
- Referee: Martin Atkinson
- VAR: Peter Bankes