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Report: Blues 0 Norwich City 2

Alex Pritchard netted a first-half opener for the East Anglians, before Josh Murphy sealed the win for the visitors with a second goal in the 71st minute.

BCFC

Blues suffered a Boxing Day disappointment at St. Andrew’s as they were beaten 2-0 by the Canaries.

Alex Pritchard netted a first-half opener for the East Anglians, before Josh Murphy sealed the win for the visitors with a second goal in the 71st minute.

Steve Cotterill made just one change to his starting XI with Lukas Jutkiewicz replacing the suspended Sam Gallagher.

There was very little space for either side in the opening stages of the game, with both sets of players being closed down at the earliest opportunity.

With just over five minutes gone Norwich won a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the Blues penalty area, but thankfully James Maddison curled the resultant dead ball narrowly over the bar.

Blues’ first attempt fell to Jota, but his shot was deflected into the arms of Canaries ‘keeper Angus Gunn.

Almost immediately Norwich broke forward and they were inches away from taking the lead as Josh Murphy’s shot went just the wrong side of David Stockdale’s upright.

The game was beginning to open now, and it was Blues who fashioned the next opportunity.

Lukas Jutkiewicz drove on into the area, but under pressure from a Norwich defender he fired his shot wide of the target.

Minutes later the same Blues striker collected the ball on the right and came inside before trying his luck with a shot which well off target.

Blues were enjoying their best spell now and the visitors had to be grateful to their goalkeeper Gunn for producing an excellent diving save to deny Jonathan Grounds, who had let fly with a curling shot from 20 yards.

But it was not all Blues, and just before the half-hour mark Pritchard found himself in a great position deep inside the Blues area. But he managed to scuff his effort and it came to nothing.

With 33 played Norwich took the lead.

After winning a free-kick midway inside Blues’ half; instead of shooting, James Maddison dissected the Blues defence with a low pass and the ball found its way to Pritchard.

The Norwich man cut inside and left Stockdale with no chance as he rifled a shot into the far corner of the net.

In the run-up to half-time Norwich twice came close to extending their advantage within a matter of seconds.

Nelson Oliveira saw his powerful shot well parried by Stockdale, and then the Blues stopper produced another excellent save to tip Pritchard’s goalbound volley over the bar.

Half-time: Blues 0 Norwich City 1

Blues boss Cotterill made a double substitution after the break as he sent on Jacques Maghoma and David Davis for Jota and Cheikh Ndoye.

Three minutes into the second-half Craig Gardner lifted a long ball deep into the Canaries’ area towards Jutkiewicz, but his teammate just failed to control the ball and Gunn was able to get to it first.

Kieftenbeld then let fly with a fierce drive from at least 25 yards, but the Dutch midfielder was unable to get it to dip enough and it flew over the bar.

Blues were coming under some real pressure now and Stockdale had to be alert to save from Josh Murphy after the Norwich man had shot through a crowd of players.

The Blues ‘keeper then produced a fine save to thwart Pritchard after the attacker’s shot deflected off Grounds.

With 65 on the clock Davis hooked an attempt wide of the Norwich goal.

But after 71 it was as good as game over as Blues conceded a second goal to Norwich.

A neat ball from Maddison was sent in behind the Blues defence to Murphy. Murphy controlled it before rounding Stockdale, who had come off his line, and slamming it into the back of an empty net.

As the game entered its final quarter of an hour, it was Norwich who were looking the side more likely to extend their advantage.

And on 81, Stockdale was called into action again as he made a good save low down to his left as he parried Murphy’s shot away.

Blues now have just four days to regroup before playing host to fifth-placed Leeds United at St. Andrew’s on Saturday.

Blues: David Stockdale, Maxime Colin, Michael Morrison, Harlee Dean, Jonathan Grounds, Craig Gardner, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Cheikh Ndoye (David Davis, h/t), Jota (Jacques Maghoma, h/t), Jeremie Boga, Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Connal Trueman, Marc Roberts, Emilio Nsue, Cohen Bramall, Stephen Gleeson.

Bookings: Kieftenbeld (45+2).

Goals: None.

Norwich City: Angus Gunn, Ivo Pinto, Christoph Zimmerman, Nelson Oliveira (Marley Watkins, 75), Josh Murphy, Timm Klose, Tom Trybull, Alex Pritchard (Yanic Wildschut, 85), James Maddison (Harrison Reed, 79), Jamal Lewis, Alex Tettey.
Subs (not used): Michael McGovern, James Husband, Mario Vrancic, Grant Hanley.

Bookings: Zimmermann (52).

Goals: Pritchard (33), Murphy (71).

Attendance: 19, 967 (921 Norwich fans).

Referee: David Coote.

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