Norwich City 4-1 Reading: Canaries seal title win by blowing Royals away
(Photo by Stephen Pond/ Getty Images)

Although the equation seemed simple; Norwich City had to beat Reading to secure the Championship title, the Royals did their best to make it difficult for them. 

A goal inside the first 15 minutes from Josh Laurent following a Michael Olise free-kick gave the Canaries an uphill battle from the offset. After grinding out the games first third, however, Norwich finally found a goal from a deflected Kieran Dowell strike. 

Despite showing an inclination to bring the fight to Norwich, the Royals failed to retain their pressure throughout the whole game. Dowell added to his tally before Quintilla wrapped up the game for Norwich with an emphatic free-kick goal. 

Norwich City blew Reading away in the second half, showing their unbeatable mentality to find a way through any defence, and proving their worth as champions.

Hungry for more, Teemu Pukki pounced on a routine back pass from Tom Holmes, slamming the ball into the empty net after waltzing past Rafael

It only happens once every two years, but the day arrived again for the Canaries to lift the Championship trophy. 

  • The match

The Premier League awaits the Canaries next season, handing them the poisoned chalice to convert their fortunes from perennial losers to top-flight bastions. But first, they needed to get past the Royals, and Daniel Farke named an unchanged lineup from their 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers, expressing his faith that a regular starting eleven has been found within his disposal.

In the other corner, Veljko Paunovic handed chances to three youngsters, a move that embodies the idea that the Royals boss is already looking towards next season. Everton loanee Lewis Gibson found a spot in the starting eleven ahead of captain Liam Moore, while Dejan Tetek and Michael Olise were also introduced.

Of the first few skirmishes of the game, it was Reading who edged the Canaries in the first 10 minutes, scoring an opener to reward their efforts.

Michael Olise, who had been named EA Sports young player of the season before kick-off, lofted a tantalising free-kick into the back post, where Josh Laurent had peeled away unmarked. The midfielder calmly converted a powerful header.

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Farke's Canaries didn't get going until the 20-minute mark, but when they did, the Royals became suffocated by a barrage of attacks.

Max Aarons charged forward first, trying to force a goal for his side, but the goalkeeper beat him to the ball, following an Emi Buendia through ball. Soon after, Buendia lashed a shot himself, which was fumbled by the goalkeeper, giving Pukki a chance to pounce. The Finnish striker was unable to capitalise. 

Norwich City chances continued to mount pressure on Reading as the Royals opted to instil a strategy that Farke would not be used to throughout the season. While most teams are happy to sit back against the Canaries, the Royals forced them back, putting pressure on the backline. 

Despite going toe to toe with the Champions elect, they were punished on the half-hour mark by Kieran Dowell. 

Tom Holmes misplaced a back pass to the goalkeeper, and Pukki was quick to close down the clearance. Rafael's hopeful punt forward went only as far as Dowell, who took his time to execute a deflected shot into the net, his 3rd goal in six games. 

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For the remainder of the half, both teams persisted to cause problems for their opponent's defences, and after intricate passages, Norwich came closest to getting ahead.

With Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia floating across the pitch, expanding the defence of the Royals, a gap opened up for a pass inside to Pukki. The striker struck a tame strike into the hands of Tim Krul from 14 yards out.

  • Second half

By and large, Norwich were the better of the two sides in the first 45 minutes, but the scoreline failed to showcase a truer resemblance of reality, and an early dragged shot from Buendia built on that narrative.

Their fortunes almost changed just five minutes after the break, though.

Kenny Mclean had the first of a flurry of chances for the Canaries. His header following a flashed cross from the corner was tipped athletically over by Rafael. Other shots from Cantwell and Dowell zipped towards goal, but somehow, the Royals survived a spell of sustained pressure. 

After Reading found their comfort in the second half, obtaining a fair share of possession, it was the Canaries who came close again on the hour-mark.

Feeling their way around the Reading box, Quintilla's cross is nodded away, but Aarons picked up the pieces and squared it to Cantwell, who lopped over from 15 yards out.

As echoes of Brentford going two goals up against Watford reverberated around Carrow Road, Dowell capitalised and scored to put Norwich in the driving seat for the title.

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An inviting little chip over the defence from Cantwell put Dowell through on goal. Although the angle was acute, the number 10 eased the ball into the net.

Teemu Pukki failed to add another just five minutes later.

A rare Grant Hanley through ball rolled on the path towards Pukki, but his shot was stopped over as Rafael was quick to narrow the size of the goal. Nevertheless, Reading were being swamped at the late stages of the half. 

Another chance arose for Pukki to finish the game off with the clock on 75 minutes. 

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A chip in behind from Dowell found its way to Pukki again, but his wastefulness shone through, missing another golden opportunity to make it three.

Finally, a fabulous, finessing free-kick from Quintilla navigated itself into the top-left corner to give Norwich a two-goal cushion, sealing the deal and crowning the Canaries as champions. 

To add to their celebrations, Holmes misplaced another back pass, inviting Pukki to eventually race away and end his wastefulness in front of goal. The Finnish frontman slammed the ball into the empty net after wheeling away from Rafael. 

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