Goals from Pierre Lees-Melou and Teemu Pukki helped reinvigorate Norwich’s slim hopes of survival with a 2-0 home win over relegation rivals Burnley.
The Canaries were 10 points from safety before kick-off, but Lees-Melou’s early deflected shot gave Dean Smith’s men a valuable lead and Pukki’s composed finish late secured their first Premier League victory. in nine attempts.
It could be too late for bottom side Norwich, who remain in a dangerous position but have at least kept 18th-placed Burnley within easy reach and dealt a heavy blow to the visitors’ chances of overcoming relegation.
While this game may have been overshadowed by the top-of-the-table clash between Manchester City and Liverpool later in the afternoon, it was a vitally important game in the battle to stay in the division.
The result of the other game between the Merseyside and Manchester sides this weekend served to add to the pressure at Carrow Road, but chances were created early on with Milot Rashica testing Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope before Jay Rodriguez saw a meek header that Tim easily saved. Krul at the other end.
Playing with an unexpected degree of freedom, it was Norwich who broke the tie through Lees-Melou in the ninth minute.
Burnley couldn’t deal with Kieran Dowell’s corner kick and Lees-Melou kicked sideways into the bottom corner from the edge of the area through a Josh Brownhill deflection.
Pope didn’t stand a chance, but soon after did his part to prevent the Canaries from doubling their lead.
Lees-Melou was involved again and sent Pukki far down the right, with the striker’s low effort stopped by England international Pope’s outstretched right boot.
Mathias Normann, buoyed by a cheering home crowd, shot from distance minutes later but saw his shot sink too late with Burnley on the ropes.
It had also been that way in midweek against Everton, where Maxwel Cornet’s late goal picked up a crucial three points, and the Ivory Coast attacker saw a stinging shot deflected by Krul in the 26th minute.
Sean Dyche’s side were now on top and Aaron Lennon called the home goalkeeper into action with a cross seconds after Grant Hanley blocked another low Cornet effort.
Even with Burnley improving, Norwich stayed ahead after Ben Gibson made two crucial blocks late in the half to deny his old team.
After a subdued start to the second period, Matej Vydra was introduced by Dyche, who would have wondered how Lees-Melou escaped a second yellow for a foul on Charlie Taylor in the 59th minute.
The visitors made another switch soon after with Dwight McNeil called up and his first appearance should have resulted in the leveller.
McNeil won possession from Sam Byram near the halfway line and rocketed into space before his low cross found Cornet at the far post, but the Burnley attacker fired wide from three yards.
Byram’s next contribution was to deflect a handsome cross from Matthew Lowton with Rodriguez and Cornet lurking at the far post. A clash of heads between the three produced a three-minute stoppage.
Hanley and Rashica squandered great chances to end the game for Norwich before Pukki finished with the points.
Normann produced a marvelous pass that split the defense to Pukki, who took a touch and finished in the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season with five minutes remaining.
Vydra and Brownhill were close at the end of Burnley, but it was Norwich’s turn to rediscover that winning feeling.