Norwich seven clear at top after win at Wycombe

Norwich seven clear at top after win at Wycombe

Teemu Pukki and Adam Idah both found the net as Norwich extended their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship to seven points with a comfortable 2-0 win over Wycombe.

Wycombe kept the visitors goalless for 51 minutes, but an 18th goal of the season for Pukki broke the deadlock and Idah wrapped things up three minutes from time.

Anis Mehmeti went closest for Wycombe, as his low first-half drive whistled past the post, but the league leaders looked in control throughout.

Teemu Pukki celebrates his goal with Emiliano Buendia

Image:
Teemu Pukki celebrates his goal with Emiliano Buendia

Wycombe made one change from midweek as Dominic Gape came in for the suspended Ryan Tafazolli. Norwich made two alterations, with Ben Gibson and Onel Hernandez coming in as they searched for a fifth consecutive win.

Mario Vrancic had scored a stoppage-time winner from a free-kick the last time these sides met in October and stepped up again from a similar position early on but, this time, his effort was kept out by a superb save by David Stockdale.

The 35-year-old, again deputising for the injured Ryan Allsop, flung himself to his left to touch the ball round the post.

Mehmeti appeared to be relishing a more forward role behind Wycombe striker Uche Ikpeazu and the two combined well, with Mehmeti on the end of Ikpeazu’s flick before unleashing a left-footed shot just wide of the goal.

After Wycombe had penalty shouts waved away as Mehmeti was felled, Norwich enjoyed their best spell of the game approaching half-time.

A Hernandez cross was met by Kenny McLean, who dragged his left-footed shot wide of the post, before Emiliano Buendia had a looping header bounce back off the bar. The rebound fell to Pukki, who could only blast over.

The pressure was a sign of things to come after the break. Hernandez had another chance, inexplicably planting a free header wide of the goal, before Norwich took the lead.

After excellent work down the right, Max Aarons’ low cross found Pukki in the area and the Finland international’s shot deflected off Josh Knight and past Stockdale.

The goal spurred Norwich into a flurry of chances. Hernandez poked the ball wide of the goal when one-on-one with Stockdale, before Buendia ballooned a shot over the bar.

There was the unusual sight of five substitutions at once midway through the second half, as Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth rung the changes.

With Wycombe in the ascendancy late on, substitute Scott Kashket spooned the ball over the bar and blasted wide as his side hunted for an equaliser.

However, any chance was snuffed out two minutes from time. Stockdale saved excellently from McLean but Idah bundled the ball home to secure all three points and keep Wycombe 11 points from safety at the bottom of the table.

What the managers said…

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth: “It doesn’t feel like a 2-0 defeat. We set up to frustrate Norwich and we probably had the better chances in the first half.

“Anis [Mehmeti] has gone through and he has skewed it wide. But he’s a great player and he’ll have many more opportunities like that.

“In the second half we started a little bit slow, there’s a slight mistake and they get the cross in. Even then it takes a deflection to beat David Stockdale, who has been in great form. That took the wind out of our sails.

“The five subs did change the team, it brings fresh energy, and then we can go for it a little bit. If we’d have gone out pressing from the start… I’ve seen them tear apart teams. We let them have it in their half and let’s stay solid and break. It almost worked but we didn’t take our chances.”

Norwich head coach Daniel Farke: “I’m always happy to get back to the dressing room with a well-deserved win, two goals and a clean sheet.

“We are absolutely happy with 70 points at this stage. But we know we have to be relentless and keep going. I want to have 80 points as soon as possible.

“If you’re 10 points clear of relegation, you’re probably safe. But if you’re fighting for promotion that gap can close really quickly.

“We knew that they’re fighting for their lives. It was difficult to open them up. In these games you have to be relentless
but you also have to be patient. We didn’t give them any real chances, although they tried everything with their physical threats, but you also have to be switched on against a side like this.”

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