A stunning, 35-yard drive from Ched Evans two minutes from the end of normal time gave the Canaries a thumping 2-1 away win at Cardiff City this afternoon.
It was an extraordinary strike that came out of absolutely nothing as the 19-year-old meandered forward before unleashing that 'hammer' of a right foot and sending the ball screaming into the top left-hand corner of a stunned Michael Oakes' goal.
Evans' rightful celebrations duly brought the game's second booking, but as today's result – albeit briefly – lifted Norwich to within four points of the top six, few would have cared. It did little to take the shine off the teenager's day. Or, indeed, the wild celebrations of the travelling City faithful.
In fairness, the young Welshman wasn't the day's only hero as the Canaries continued to storm up the Championship table. City keeper David Marshall helped the cause with a fine, flying save high to his right to deny Paul Parry in the 78th minute.
The day, however, belonged to Evans after he opened the scoring in 15th minute with a pretty tame, low 18-yarder. Alex Rae's leveller on the stroke of half-time set up a tense second period in which the Bluebirds just edged in terms of possession and chances – until Master Evans reached for his hammer.
Certainly if Canary fans were looking for lucky omens going into this lunch-time's trip to Cardiff, then the fact that the last time Evans played at the Ninian he scored a hat-trick for the Welsh Under-21 side against France – a performance that had the world, his wife and City boss Glenn Roeder sitting up and taking notice.
Dressed in his Canary away-kit, Evans was also sporting the red of Wales.
The on-loan 19-year-old bagged another two for Bryan Flynn's youngsters in Malta and given Jamie Cureton's appendix woes, his continuing eye for a goal will be crucial to Norwich's hopes this spring.
He wasn't, of course, the only loan on show. Today all eyes were on Middlesbrough's Matthew Bates who after last weekend's accomplished, second-half run-out against Preston North End found himself stepping into Jon Otsemobor's shoes from the start – the latter's preparations this week having not been helped by a family bereavement.
It was left to Kieran Gibbs and James Henry to make their way to the stands as Alex Pearce found his way to the bench.
Cardiff, with five straight home wins to their name ahead of today's game, were not without their Norwich connections with Peter Grant reported to have run the rule over both midfielder Rae and left-back Tony Capaldi last summer.
The Bluebirds certainly got into their stride early as Bates was forced into a timely defensive header from a deep Peter Whittingham cross and while the Canaries looked bright enough, it was still seven minutes before they ruffled a Cardiff feather as last weekend's last-gasp goal hero Darel Russell forced a first corner from which Gary Doherty headed over.
In fairness, it reflected a slight shift in the balance of play as the visitors started to enjoy the greater share of the possession albeit if it yielded nothing by way of chances for either side.
Until Evans' love affair with Wales continued with a 15th minute opener. Ryan Bertrand angled a ball back across the penalty area where, courtesy of a neat Dublin 'leave', Evans found himself with the space to place a low, side-foot drive into the bottom left-hand corner of Oakes' goal. Whether it nicked a little deflection en route was of little concern to the on-loan youngster as he bagged his third goal in a week; his fifth in 11 City starts.
Lee Croft almost wriggled free in the 21st minute courtesy of a wonderfully-weighted through ball by Dublin after another neat 'leave'; this time by Russell. If Cardiff's perfect New Year home record were to continue they were going to have raise their game a further gear or two.
The big fly in Norwich's ointment came rather in the sight of Dublin stretching at a little through ball and picking himself up all too gingerly for Roeder's liking; holding a hamstring in the process. For now, he insisted he was able to carry on but once again Norwich's hopes were resting on a 38-year-old sinew.
Doherty blotted his otherwise pristine copy-book by missing a low, 29th minute cross completely. Fortunately it caught Paul Parry by surprise as much as anyone and he could only bundle it beyond David Marshall's right-hand post. He made amends by mopping up after Jason Shackell as he missed the first header – Doherty bravely heading the ball half-clear off the first bounce and then throwing his body in the way of Parry's follow-up drive.
Seven minutes before the break and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink would, for once, muscle his way into space on the edge of the City box. His curling, 18-yard drive was always curling the wrong way to unduly trouble Marshall. He did better moments later with the sharpest of turns to beat both Mo Camara and Shackell only for his shot to fizz a yard wide.
Norwich's response was almost immediate as Evans met a Croft header back into the Bluebirds box. Centre of goal, the Canary striker went neither right nor left with his free header – instead he went straight down the middle where Oakes' arms waited.
That proved a brief respite as Cardiff rolled forward and had Norwich rocking; once Russell and then Doherty would hastily clear anywhere as their hosts threatened.
They got their reward deep into the fourth minute of first-half injury time as Bates left a little ball horribly short of Doherty. Joe Ledley accepted the invitation with glee. Darting in with Doherty left wholly stranded, his cross back through the danger zone fell to Rae whose drilled shot span off into the bottom corner as both Camara and Bertrand desperately looked to cover. But the damage was done as Bates left the door open.
Ten seconds later and the half-time whistle blew, the Canaries guilty of conceding a goal at the worst possible moment. As Roeder, no doubt, would point out.
If anyone expected Cardiff to fly out of the blocks, tails up, they were to be disappointed as the second period started in relatively subdued fashion. One corner forced and the delivery failed to meet the home faithful's expectations as the contest went distinctly flat on all concerned. The locals amused themselves by baiting Huckerby as we warmed up on the touchline in front of him.
Bates received the game's first yellow card in the 64th minute for tumbling late into Stephen McPhail. And that was largely that. Cue Huckerby's arrival. To a chorus of boos from the Ninian natives. Whether someone had the last laugh there was something the last 20 minutes of the contest would reveal. On all the immediate evidence, the game was petering out into a very ordinary draw.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Oakes; McNaughton, Capaldi, Loovens, Johnson; Ledley, Rae, McPhail, Whittingham; Parry, Hasselbaink (Thompson, 79 mins). Subs (not used): Enckelman, Purse, Thompson, Blake, Ramsey.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Bates, Doherty, Shackell, Camara; Croft (Huckerby, 70 mins), Russell, Fotheringham, Bertrand (Pattison, 82 mins); Dublin, Evans. Subs (not used) Gilks, Otsemobor, Pearce.
Man of the Match: Ched Evans.