Norwich survived a scare to re-open their 10-point gap at the top of the Championship with a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
A close-range finish from Jordan Rhodes against his former employers gave the Owls the lead (10), but the visitors improved greatly after the break and hit back to take all three points thanks to goals from Teemu Pukki (61) and Todd Cantwell (77).
Daniel Farke’s men continue to lead the charge after their eighth straight win, while Wednesday remain in 23rd, seven points off safety with 11 games remaining.
How Norwich took another leap towards the title
The stakes were relatively high for both clubs in South Yorkshire, with Wednesday looking to avoid recording a seventh straight defeat for the first time since December 2012 and Norwich requiring victory to keep their title push on course, with victories for Brentford, Swansea and Watford earlier in the weekend.
As expected, the Canaries enjoyed the lion’s share of possession as they took hold of the game early on, but after a foul by Ben Gibson on Josh Windass just outside the area, they found themselves, surprisingly, chasing the game when Rhodes swept in after failing to deal with Barry Bannan’s free-kick.
Norwich did well to settle back into a rhythm against a side intent on protecting their precious lead and went close when Pukki’s shot was blocked by Tom Lees, though escaped punishment after a rare mistake from Oliver Skipp allowed Adam Reach a clear sight at goal, with his shot held by Tim Krul.
The leaders had lacked a cutting edge in spite of their possessional dominance, but that changed after the break. Suddenly, their signature intricacies returned and they netted the equaliser such work deserved just after the break.
Emi Buendia – who had been a marked man – played into the feet of Skipp, who moved the ball onto Pukki, who left goalkeeper Keiren Westwood with no chance when he rifled into the roof of the net to reach a half-century of Championship goals.
Wednesday battled to preserve what would have been a valuable point but were ultimately undone by a moment of sheer quality from Cantwell, who skipped past the challenge of Liam Palmer to collect a pinpoint pass from Buendia and curl a delightful winner into the top left corner.
Man of the match – Teemu Pukki
Sky Sports’ Danny Gabbidon:
“He scored that all important equaliser, but it wasn’t just that. His hold-up play, his work-rate, his movement and pressing in the second half was a key factor in Norwich taking all three points.”
Both sides are next in action on Wednesday, March 17. Norwich travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest at 7pm, while Sheffield Wednesday host Huddersfield at Hillsborough at 7.45pm. Both matches are live on Sky Sports Football Red Button.