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REPORT: Norwich City 3 Blues 1

Blues fall to defeat in East Anglia on a bitterly cold Friday evening.

BCFC

Blues were hit by an early three-goal burst that put paid to their chances at Carrow Road.

Che Adams notched his 14th of the season in impress style to restore parity instantly after Teemu Pukki had given Norwich the lead.

But Blues then saw their hosts rattle in two more, from Mario Vrancic and Tom Trybull, to tip the contest decisively the Canaries way by the 25th minute.

Blues never really recovered and despite remaining honest and earnest throughout they didn't find any joy thereafter against a dominant Norwich.

The second-half was not as frenetic as the first and Blues found to hard going to unhinge the automatic promotion-chasers.

Blues suffered am early blow in the 13th minute when Norwich went ahead via Pukki, with a near-post finish.

Norwich worked the ball around the edge of Blues box for Jamal Lewis to send over, low.

Pukki made a sharp run across the centre-halves and got a decisive touch to divert it past Lee Camp.

But anything Pukki can do, Adams can do better . . . Blues got level 88 seconds later.

Gary Gardner made a purposeful move in the middle of the park and gave the ball to Jota, who spied Adams diagonal run towards the right of the area.

Adams took and touch and then powered a fine shot past Tim Krul, catching him unawareness with the swiftness of control, turn and connection.

It was a great response from Blues, who had started the match brightly and confidently.

But in the 22nd minute Blues conceded again, having allowed Norwich to move the ball around in front of their box.

It was shifted sideways to Vrancic who drilled a low, skidding shot just inside the post from 22 yards or so.

Again, an opposition player was left in too much space and Vrancic tried his luck – and it was in.

Blues uncharacteristic defending was there once more when Norwich scored a third goal, in the 25th minute.

From a corner, the ball was swung into the thick of things and Trybull got the run on the Blues rearguard and powered a header in from eight yards.

It could have got worse moments later when Pukki flicked a cross just wide of the post as Blues struggled to regain their composure.

They were hanging on all right and some meaty, frustrated tackles transpired, with Maikel Kieftenbeld and Kristian Pedersen going into the notebook.

Blues righted themselves eventually but so much damage had been done. Effectively three goals shipped in 12 minutes was scarring mentally and the physical toil would only increase as the visitors had to somehow find a way back.

Norwich, full of fluid pace and movement, kept finding dangerous spaces in which to play and when Blues did construct things of their own, their defence slotted in quickly and got behind the ball.

With two minutes of the half to play, Jota drifted infield with the ball probing for an angle and let fire with a low shot that Krul pushed away behind the post. From the corner Lukas Jutkiewicz came storming in at the back post but, with a defender refusing to yield, he was unable to get direction on his header, which went over the bar.

Half-time: Norwich 3 Blues 1

Maxime Colin made a great recovery tackle after Norwich played the ball inside the full-back to allow Onel Hernandez to get a run at goal, clear.

He checked back on Kieftenbeld’s sliding challenge and just before he could pull the trigger Colin came sliding in to snuff out the danger.

It was that sort of confident, cohesive start to the second period by Norwich as Blues strived to get the right pass, go with the right option, when they attacked, by contrast.

In the 55th minute Blues made a change by withdrawing Kieftenbeld and sending on Craig Gardner.

Jota continued to plug away and try and make things happen for Blues. But they struggled to get down the sides, or behind Norwich with any zip to really test their defence.

Next Isaac Vassell was sent into the fray (61, for Jutkiewicz) as the game continued to drift away from Blues.

Camp punched away, one-handed, a curling effort from Todd Cantwell, as Norwich manoeuvred the ball with purpose to create a shooting attempt, from the left edge of the box.

Blues third and final substitution came in the 71st minute, Connor Mahoney getting an opportunity, for Jota.

Adams tried his luck from 25 yards when the ball popped back down to him from a header, but it was straight at Krul, who saved comfortably his body completely behind the ball.

Similarly Craig Gardner had a go from distance with a shot that swerved late but was no trouble for Krul.

In added-time a cross in from Craig Gardner, after a period of pressure from a corner, agonisingly eluded the on-rushing Gary Gardner and Michael Morrison, at close range.

Ultimately, with such an advantage, Norwich were able to ease themselves in to victory as Blues kept on working and sweating away but without the necessary sting to mount a second-half comeback.

Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul, Aarons, Lewis, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Trybull, Vrancic, Buendia (Cantwell 38), Hernandez (McLean 90), Stiepermann, Pukki (Rhodes 85). Subs not used: McGovern, Passlack, Hanley, Srbeny.

Goals: Pukki (13), Vrancic (22), Trybull (25)

Blues (4-4-2): Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Morrison, Dean, Jota (Mahoney 71), Kieftenbeld (Craig Gardner 55), Gary Gardner, Maghoma, Jutkiewicz (Vassell 61), Adams. Subs not used: Trueman, Solomon-Otabor, Dacres-Cogley, Harding.

Goal: Adams (14)

Bookings: Kieftenbeld, Pedersen, Craig Gardner, Morrison

Referee: T Robinson

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