Norwich 3-1 Birmingham: Nunez double fires Canaries to victory
Two goals from Marcelino Nunez, the first an absolute stunner, guided Norwich to a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Birmingham at Carrow Road.
The Chile international produced a stunning volley from well outside the box to open the scoring after 27 minutes and quickly added a second to seemingly put the Canaries in command.
Birmingham gave them a scare by pulling one back early the second half through Maxime Colin and went on to give a good account of themselves until a late third from substitute Christos Tzolis settled the issue.
The win boosted Norwich’s Championship play-off bid while a third straight defeat for Blues left them looking anxiously over their shoulders at the teams below them.
Despite their main strikers Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent both being out through injury, the Canaries were quick to seize the initiative and their former keeper John Ruddy made an excellent point-blank save to deny Kieran Dowell after just three minutes.
Kenny McLean fired wide after a goalmouth scramble as the hosts continued to dominate and they deservedly took the lead on 27 minutes through a quite brilliant goal from Nunez.
When a Dowell corner was headed well clear by Kevin Long there appeared to be nothing on for the midfielder but as the ball came down he connected perfectly to volley home into the top corner from some 25 yards out.
Such was the difficulty of the angle, and the distance from goal, that the home fans were stunned into silence for a split-second before the celebrations got under way.
Nunez doubled Norwich’s advantage with a rather more straightforward effort nine minutes later. Poor Birmingham defending gave him all the space he needed in the area and when McLean’s left-wing cross came over he had no difficulty steering it into the roof of the net.
With the Blues posing little threat David Wagner’s side could easily have been out of sight at the break, with a last-ditch tackle from Emmanuel Longelo and then a strong arm from Ruddy denying Idah in the closing stages of the half.
Birmingham got themselves back into the game on 52 minutes when their first effort on target produced a goal, and a well-taken one at that.
Hannibal Mejbri’s cross from the left deflected nicely into the path of Colin just outside the box but there was still plenty to do for the defender, who took aim and drilled a low shot into the corner of the net, giving Angus Gunn no chance.
Tahith Chong fired just over from distance as the visitors looked for an equaliser before Norwich went desperately close to restoring their two-goal advantage.
When McLean got an outstretched leg to Idah’s nod-on to take the ball past the onrushing Ruddy it looked a goal all the way but Long somehow got back to scoop the ball off the line.
Birmingham kept battling right to the end but were caught short at the back in injury time, with a quick break enabling substitute Tzolis to curl home a third for the hosts.