City boss Paul Lambert praised his team’s dominant FA Cup showing this afternoon, after the Canaries recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory over Championship Burnley to sail through to the fourth round.
Norwich haven’t been particularly prominent in the latter stages of cup competitions in recent years. But they could go far this time around if today’s Carrow Road performance is anything to go by.
First-half goals from Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson gave the hosts a 2-1 half-time lead – after Jay Rodriguez had pulled one back for the Clarets – and City even had the luxury of a missed penalty from captain Holt.
But the Canaries were completely in control during the second 45 and after strikes from Andrew Surman and substitute Steve Morison sealed their passage through to the next round, Lambert was clearly satisfied.
“I’m delighted, we played very well,” said the City boss, speaking to the media afterwards. “We dominated the game from start to finish and deserved to go through.
“Burnley are going well in the Championship but we’ve moved on [since the last time we played them]. The Premier League does that to teams and you’ve got to step up to the plate.
“You have that level of intensity in the top flight and it was important we didn’t go beneath that today. I thought, from the off, we dominated the game.
“I thought it would be hard against Burnley but we played at a very high tempo and thoroughly deserved to go through.”
The Canaries will be ball number 16 in tomorrow’s draw and Lambert has just one Cup wish, with the Scot admitting that the Premier League – and more importantly, survival – is his priority.
“We’d like to get a home draw – that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
Burnley started the opening moments with a sense of purpose and after two minutes, a Charlie Austin shot from outside the box was punched away by rookie goalkeeper Declan Rudd, in for the rested John Ruddy who has just celebrated the birth of a baby girl.
But it didn’t take City long to open the scoring and on five minutes, a corner – which came from a deflected Surman shot – found Hoolahan, who in turn guided his cross to the head of Holt. Bang. 1-0.
They made it two just seven minutes later and this one was certainly pleasing on the eye. After a flowing move involving Hoolahan yet again, Adam Drury floated a lovely ball to the head of Jackson who made no mistake from close range.
But if the Canary faithful were expecting an easy ride thereafter, Burnley pegged one back on 15, when Clarets favourite Rodriguez looped his header over Rudd from just outside the box. 2-1 and game on again.
After the thrills and spills of the first quarter-of-an-hour, it all went a little quiet for a while and apart from a Hoolahan shot – which fell comfortably into the hands of Burnley ‘keeper Lee Grant – the next major action came on 31 minutes when City were given a glorious opportunity to restore their two-goal advantage.
Holt, however, could only roll his penalty wide after referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot for a supposed handball by Austin from Andrew Crofts’ shot. In fairness, on first viewing, it looked a tad harsh; one of those ‘what was he supposed to do’ moments.
And City almost rued that missed penalty on 42 minutes when the Clarets had a decent chance to make it 2-2, only for Dani Ayala to deny than man Austin. The striker found himself in front of the defender after a goalmouth scramble yet Ayala stopped his shot and cleared his lines majestically.
The start of the second-half was a tad quieter than the first but on 54, the Canaries really should have made it 3-1 when Lambert’s men had three chances in as many seconds.
Hoolahan’s shot from a Drury cross was parried by Grant, only for Holt to smash the rebound against the base of the post and Jackson to poke the second rebound wide.
But they didn’t have to wait long for that crucial third and it was a cracker too, with Jackson playing in Andrew Surman who arrowed his shot into the corner of the net on the hour mark.
By this point it was all Norwich and apart from Martin having to divert a teasing Clarets cross for a corner, the visitors didn’t really have a sniff.
And the contest was duly settled on 73 minutes when substitute Morison – who had only been on the pitch two minutes – poked home after fellow sub Aaron Wilbraham saw his shot saved.
All in all, a thoroughly satisfying afternoon’s work.
Norwich: Rudd; Martin, Ayala, Whitbread, Drury; Crofts, Fox, Surman; Hoolahan (Bennett 77); Holt (Morison 71), Jackson (Wilbraham 71). Subs: Steer, Johnson, Lappin, Barnett.