Norwich City 2-1 Blackburn Rovers: Class Canaries promoted to the Premier League
Vrancic sealed victory with a thunderous effort (photo: Getty Images)

Norwich City 2-1 Blackburn Rovers: Class Canaries promoted to the Premier League

This was Norwich's 13th successive game without a defeat.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Emphatic, enthralling and engaging all season, Norwich City celebrated a return to the Premier League with an impeccable display against Blackburn Rovers.

The flying Canaries certainly won't look out of place in the top-flight next season after another 90 minutes of lighting up Carrow Road with their appealing brand of fast-paced, intense football.

Vrancic in as Graham returns

Norwich manager Daniel Farke was keen to mathematically secure promotion on home turf, deploying his strongest side available with only the enforced change of Mario Vrancic for the injured Tom Trybull.

Vrancic has made 22 substitute appearances this season but still netted eight strikes, the same number as fellow starting midfielders Emi Buendia, Marco Stiepermann and Onel Hernandez.

Yet Blackburn arrived in East Anglia keen to gatecrash the promotion party. They went into the match on the back of four wins on the bounce, including East Midlands opponents in Nottingham Forest and Derby County, compared to the same number of successive draws for Norwich.

Captain and former Canary, Elliott Bennett returned to the starting eleven, as did Danny Graham who was looking to add to the 29 goals he and strike partner Bradley Dack have scored this season.

Canaries rewarded for intense opening

Norwich started the contest well and truly on the front foot with Buendia looking to drive forward, Pukki dropping deeper to impact play and Jamal Lewis enjoying space out on the left. Their first shot of note coming on five minutes when Pukki chested down a lofted Vrancic pass but Stiepermann could only fire wildly over.

Lewis was causing havoc on the left, bursting forward with speed and flair. He picked out Hernandez who drifted an effort just wide of the far post.

Norwich were keen to settle the nerves and they did just that on 12 minutes. A typically neat move saw Hernandez' effort blocked but Vrancic was quick to steal the ball back, working it to Stiepermann who used the wet grass to skid a strike into the bottom corner.

The hosts continued to push on as a Pukki volley was blocked seemingly by the hand of Darragh Lenihan. No penalty.

In the mood, Buendia whipped an effort wide just moments later. Premier League quality in the opening 15 from Norwich.

Fast pace continues with goals for either side

The pressure from Pukki was unrelenting and Lenihan was certainly not enjoying the experience. Chasing that magical 30 mark after 28 goals this season, not reached by a Championship player for seven seasons, the league's top goalscorer pounced on Lenihan's miscontrol before being hacked down when through on goal. The Blackburn defender staying on the pitch only perhaps because of the distance Pukki still had to travel.

Pukki was inches from getting a goal minutes later. Neat work again down the left resulted in the ball being worked across to the Finn who was somehow thwarted on the line by Jayson Leutwiler. The Rovers goalkeeper was given no chance just seconds later...

Vrancic was allowed time and space, dangerous for any Norwich midfielder, before letting rip into the top corner from range. An absolute thunderbolt. Game over already?

Not quite. The one outlet who had shown any sign of an impact for the visitors was Amari Bell. The midfielder's push forward allowed the ball to be worked to Lewis Travis who struck back within two minutes of the Norwich second, a goal identical to Stiepermann's.

Half the job done

Blackburn went into the weekend having conceded more goals than all but four Championship sides and you could see why. Vrancic opened them up again by playing Pukki down the channel. The striker pulled the ball back to a slipping Stiepermann but his effort was parried away by Leutwiler.

The pace settled to an extent but there were still half chances at either end. A fizzed Blackburn cross, Pukki stopped by a last-ditch challenge and a Buendia free-kick deflected wide.

The left was still an outlet for Norwich and it was clear why Academy graduate Lewis had been named in the Championship Team of the Season. The teenager started the move that ended with Buendia skating his way through the Blackburn defence before firing just over.

Lewis was also the focal point for another move down that flank before Hernandez spun and released a strike past the far post.

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Leutwiler continues to keep Blackburn in the game

Buendia had shown unbelievable class in the first 45 minutes and he was almost rewarded with an outstanding goal moments into the second. With Blackburn on the ropes again and the ball bobbling around the penalty area, the Argentine executed an overhead kick, only kept out by the outstretched fingers of Leutwiler - quite literally single-handedly keeping Rovers in the contest.

With 55 minutes on the clock, Norwich couldn't have got any closer to a third. Hernandez stood up his man before shaping inside and rattling the angle between crossbar and post. 

If the threat down the left wasn't enough, there was still plenty of ability on the right. Another Academy graduate and Championship Team of the Season inductee, Max Aarons, had been quieter than Lewis on the night but managed to squeeze down the channel before launching over.

On the opposite side, Carrow Road was party central as substitute Jordan Rhodes played to the crowd, dancing around the corner flag. Meanwhile, such had been the dominance of Norwich, Dack was hauled off after being largely ineffective, despite having a hand in five goals during his last seven league games.

Promotion

With less than 20 minutes left on the clock, Norwich still did everything they could to keep the game close. Hernandez raced through after Stiepermann won the ball back but opted to pass rather than slot the ball home. Stiepermann then had a go himself, again thwarted by the diving Leutwiler after a driving run.

A brief spell of pressure from the visitors was enough to keep the nerves in tact, a couple of miscues the only difference between ever-present Tim Krul being tested.

But the pattern had always been the same for Norwich. Whenever Blackburn flirted with getting their way back in the game, Kenny McLean took control from the base of midfield, dictating the tempo and settling his side down.

There was still time for Joe Rothwell to blaze over as the game ticked into stoppage time but the yellow wall held firm.

Breathe it in Canaries' fans, Norwich City...Premier League.

 

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