Goals win games.
That’s what “they” say, isn’t it? And we came up with three pretty damn good ones at Ashton Gate at mid-day on Saturday.
A classic through-ball to Teemu Pukki from Marco Stiepermann early doors and our Finnish friend did his stuff. It was a privilege to see it hit the net really.
Pukki’s second around the 14-minute mark was equally impressive. A beautiful diagonal ball from Lungi Sorensen and a slight deflection from Bristol City skipper Tomas Kalas saw that one safely in the onion bag as well.
But we are Norwich after all and less than two minutes later Tim Krul [more of him in a while] beat out a shot that was hooked back from the left to be picked up by Jack Hunt on the right who fired it across our Tim to make it 1-2 and keep the pot boiling until half time.
Daniel Farke started to become very vocal at this juncture and certainly “got involved” with his players to put it in polite terminology.
And then came first-half stoppage time, which is something we tend not to see too much of. And as the non-functional pitchside digital clock ticked along to the magic figure of 45+2 along came the goal that won the game.
Another beautiful long ball, in this case from Ben Gibson, was taken down by Emi Buendia and two touches later it was in the back of the Bristol City net. What a way to bag your first of the season – if by any remote chance you haven’t seen it you really must, it’s that good.
And a kick in the gonads for the Robins just before half time. That’s a fantastic time to score as we all well know and especially when it restores the margin to two clear goals.
But equally, we all knew it wasn’t done and dusted. This is Norwich City we’re talking about here. But the second half was pretty even with more thrust from the Robins than ourselves, which is quite understandable when they are chasing the game and we are not.
Enter the mighty aforementioned Dutchman.
In real-time I didn’t see him getting the very tip of his glove to deflect Chris Martin’s excellent [but, c’mon, speculative] long-ranger onto the inside of the post and fortuitously away, but on the replays he definitely did. Just as he denied Martin’s header in the first half with yet another spectacular stop.
Lungi Sorensen’s involvement for the Robins’ penalty I don’t really want to dwell on but even so, Krul played his part in psyching out Nahki Wells.
Penalty taken. Krul grounded. Ball well over the bar. If Bristol had scored that we might have ended up in trouble but it didn’t happen and towards the end, Placheta was getting a little more freedom and we could have added a fourth.
If ever a match highlighted our strengths and weaknesses in equal proportion it was this one.
But whether it was a coach or [more likely] a plane back from Bristol on Saturday afternoon, I’d bet my butt that our guys will have enjoyed the collective journey home.
And they deserve to because that was an extremely encouraging performance.