Norwich City 1-0 Bournemouth: Nervy Canaries hold on as both teams end with ten men
Pukki celebrates the opener (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Norwich City moved within three points of Bournemouth and six of safety as they won a battling encounter at the foot of the table.

With more red cards than goals at the home of entertaining matches, a pulsating corner descended upon Carrow Road...

Trio of changes apiece as Duda starts

Daniel Farke immediately handed a debut to loanee Ondrej Duda, pressured with the task of helping the Canaries try and escape the drop.

Duda admitted in the matchday programme that 'there was some interest from other clubs but I don't want to choose the easy way and go to a bigger club. I still like challenges.' A challenge it certainly is and Norwich knew they had to ascertain three points from this bottom of the table scrap.

Fellow new signing Lukas Rupp made the substitutes bench, bolstered by the return to fitness of Grant Hanley and Josip Drmic. But, arguably more importantly, recently named Finnish Athlete of the Year, Teemu Pukki, returned to the starting eleven whilst there was a rare outing for the favoured defensive partnership of Ben Godfrey and Christoph Zimmermann, the former also back from injury.

Max Aarons kept his place at right-back, despite being heavily linked with a move away, contrasting to the fortunes of Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke who secured a January move of his own last year but dropped to the visiting bench after a failing to score a league goal during that 12-month period.

Aaron Ramsdale made a welcome return in goal after the Cherries shipped three against Watford last time out, whilst Simon Francis dropped to the bench as Diego Rico took his place.

Duda starts well

Just minutes after being presented his Player of the Month Award for December, Emi Buendia dripped into his old habits, trying to flick a pass in a dangerous area that was stolen away by Ryan Fraser. The Bournemouth winger, attempting to rekindle some form himself, crossed for Callum Wilson whose flicked header from a tight angle was comfortably handled by Tim Krul.

But Duda was already beginning to show a degree of settlement in the Premier League, his first touch a chested lay-off before playing through a number of teasing passes between the lines. Norwich were depicting the better football in the opening ten minutes but Philip Billing's blazed effort from range wasn't too far over when the visitors pressed forward.

Norwich's first opening came on 15 minutes with Duda again at the heart of the play. The loanee spread the ball wide to Aarons who picked out Buendia at the far post but he could only head wide. Buendia and Duda in particular were interchanging with promise to give the Bournemouth midfield trio a headache.

Despite still looking nervy on occasions in defence, Bournemouth going close to springing the offside trap a couple of times, Norwich were beginning to control the game as Alex Tettey chipped up the ball and volleyed just wide.

Disaster for Bournemouth

With 30 minutes on the clock, a lacklustre Bournemouth imploded. Todd Cantwell flicked the ball to Pukki who was beaten to the chase by Ramsdale, the visiting goalkeeper palming the ball away. The rebound fell to Duda who launched a curling goalbound effort from range that was flicked away by the hand of a diving Steve Cook with his goalkeeper stranded. Penalty; red card; needless length VAR check with the Bournemouth captain already down the tunnel.

Pukki stepped up and confidently buried the ball straight down the middle. A huge moment in the battle for survival? Even with the best part of 60 minutes remaining, it looked difficult to see a way back into the contest for the visitors, particularly when their top scorer and most creative player, Harry Wilson, was hooked in favour of defender Simon Francis.

With namesake Callum portraying a frustrated figure in attack with even less service, Bournemouth failed to muster any sort of response before the half-time whistle. But Norwich had failed to win in their last nine, despite taking the lead in six of those matches...

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Buendia pulling the strings

Bournemouth were sent out for the second half early, perhaps with both their Premier League ambitions and manager's job on the line.

But Norwich looked hungry for more, Buendia curling high and wide from range after a nippy opening from the hosts.

It was the diminutive Argentine who was changing the tempo in the early stages of the second half, snapping away off the ball and bursting forward when he received possession. A delicate chip over the top was inches away from releasing Pukki but for a very stretched header from Ake to keep his side in the contest.

The Cherries' only opening of the first 15 minutes of the second half was a goalmouth scramble from a Ryan Fraser corner - but they have scored half of their goals this season from such positions.

Ramsdale gives Bournemouth hope with trio of saves

As the contest ticked into the final quarter, you could sense the nerves of a side bottom of the table and without a clean sheet at home all season. With Bournemouth edging forward, Callum Wilson lost his footing at the vital moment when looking set to turn a Fraser cut back home.

Norwich needed a goal to take the sting out of the contest and they should have got one on 69 minutes. Buendia slotted Pukki through on goal but he couldn't work an angle past Ramsdale who read the Finn's placed finish.

You could sense a key period in the season as gaps appeared all over the pitch. Norwich started to rebuild their press and neat interplay between Aarons and Buendia resulted in the ball being worked across the box to Duda who prodded his effort straight at Ramsdale.

All of the magic was coming from Buendia and he skirted his way past several red shirts before also being thwarted by Ramsdale, this time stretching out a leg to keep Bournemouth in the game.

Godfrey sent off following pitchside monitor check

But then came another dramatic moment.

With Norwich well on top, Ben Godfrey launched into a challenge at the side of the pitch, connecting with the ankle of Wilson. Referee Paul Tierney initially awarded a yellow card before being referred to his pitchside monitor by VAR - a new protocol this week. After checking the decision, and with tempers flaring behind him, Tierney upgraded the card to a red.

A tired Duda came off, replaced by defender Grant Hanley, whilst Solanke was sent on for the ineffective Jefferson Lerma. Game on.

Bournemouth smelt blood and perhaps should have been level minutes after restoring the numerical equality. A whipped cross was flicked into the path of Dan Gosling who couldn't get any purchase on his free header.

Fraser then dinked a free-kick to Ake who connected much better but saw his header tipped over by Tim Krul. Moments later, Buendia clipped a free-kick inches wide of Ramsdale's bottom corner.

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Norwich hold on

As both sides huffed and puffed during the dying embers, tempers again threatened to spill over, Adam Smith taking offence to a Todd Cantwell challenge, twice.

The excellent Buendia was replaced by Lukas Rupp to a standing ovation for the German's debut during injury time as Norwich started to kill the tempo and head for a vital three points.

As Tierney blew his whistle, Carrow Road erupted. Season alive?

Key Takeaway - Duda impresses on debut

From his first touch, a confident chested lay-off, Ondrej Duda looked right at home in a yellow shirt.

Playing in the number ten role, often void for the Canaries this season, he interchanged expertly with Emi Buendia, picking up space between the lines as a flat Bournemouth midfield three failed to track his movement.

Duda injected pace into Norwich's frequent attacks, playing one-touch football with the ability to know where he was going to play the ball before it had even reached his foot. Considering he had only played 90 minutes on two occasions, the Slovakian looked particularly sharp from the outset.

Duda's first 45 minutes of Premier League action compiled an 88.6% pass success rate, 10% up on his career percentage, without being dispossessed or contributing an unsuccessful touch once.

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