Fulham 1 Norwich City 1: Nelson Oliveira’s late strike salvages a fine point in Daniel Farke’s first match in charge of the Canaries
PUBLISHED: 09:28 06 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:28 06 August 2017
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Daniel Farke’s reign as Norwich City head coach has got off to a fine start, thanks to a late equaliser from Nelson Oliveira against promotion hopefuls Fulham.
An unfortunate own goal from City skipper Russell Martin in the 25th minute was poised to settle a lively encounter but substitutes Wes Hoolahan and striker Oliveira linked up to snatch a point for the Canaries in the 88th minute.
It means City’s search for a first win at Craven Cottage since New Year’s Day 1986 continues but the travelling fans didn’t remotely care about that hoodoo on this occasion, savouring an exciting end to an intense encounter.
Farke named seven of his eight senior signings in the starting line-up at Craven Cottage, with Hoolahan, Ivo Pinto and Josh Murphy also fit enough for the substitutes bench.
Loan keeper Angus Gunn started with German centre-backs Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke in front of him, as well as James Husband at left wing-back.
Southampton loanee Harrison Reed anchored the midfield, with Bosnia & Herzegovina international Mario Vrancic in a more advanced midfield role and Marley Watkins in support of striker Cameron Jerome.
Fulham started the brighter but it was City with the best early chances, James Maddison and Marley Watkins both seeing shots saved in the opening 20 minutes as the visitors warmed to their task.
It was the home side who took the lead their lively build-up play deserved though, with City defender Russell Martin the unlucky goal-scorer.
Yanic Wildschut couldn’t stop Floyd Ayite getting past him on the left and the winger’s low cross came off Martin’s standing heel to deflect past Angus Gunn from six yards as Fulham took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute.
The hosts were rampant down either wing but City survived more pressure, with Zimmermann a prominent defensive asset, although Vrancic and Maddison did fire over as Norwich continued to look capable in attack ahead of half-time.
Maddison bent a free-kick a yard over the bar early in the second half but the Cottagers retained their dominance and were unlucky not to go 2-0 up in the 53rd minute when Neeskens Kebano cut in from the left and lashed a shot against the foot of the right-hand post from 15 yards.
Three minutes later Marley Watkins wasted a fine chance with a weak finish from 10 yards. Farke made his first change in the 59th minute, bringing on Josh Murphy for Wildschut and switching from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Watkins moving to the right and Nelson Oliveira replacing Jerome up front a few minutes later.
Substitute striker Aboubakar Kamara, a £5million signing from French side Amiens, fired into the side-netting in the 73rd minute after twisting and turning under pressure from Franke in the City box.
The Cottagers remained in control but Murphy set Husband away on the left in the 76th minute, his long cross being thumped goalwards by Martin and clearly hitting the flailing arm of substitute left-back Denis Odoi, only for the referee to wave away the impassioned claims for a penalty from the Canaries fans behind the Fulham goal.
Hoolahan replaced Reed for the final 10 minutes, with Vrancic dropping deeper in midfield, as City went in search of an equaliser. Oliveira and Husband exchanged a one-two on the edge of the Fulham box but a low effort from the striker was easily held by Button.
Oliveira would be the hero though, getting on the end of a fine through-ball from Hoolahan to run into the box and fire a low shot which sent the travelling support into raptures, with the Portuguese front-man running to Farke holding his shirt with his name facing his new boss seeking recognition and earning a booking in the process.
Farke didn’t seem to mind though as the striker salvaged an excellent point on his first day in Championship football.
Next up for City is a return to Carrow Road on Tuesday night, taking on Swindon Town in the Carabao Cup first round.
Fulham: Button; Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Sessegnon (Odoi 70); Johansen, Cairney (C), Norwood (Cisse 63); Aluko, Ayite (Kamara 63), Kebano. Unused subs: Rodak (GK), Madl, Piazon, Edun.
Goal: OG Martin (25)
Booked: Cairney (66), Johansen (85)
Norwich: Gunn; Martin (C), Zimmermann, Franke; Wildschut (Murphy 59), Maddison, Reed (Hoolahan 80), Vrancic, Husband; Watkins, Jerome (Oliveira 64). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Pinto, Godfrey, Tettey.
Goal: Oliveira (88)
Booked: Oliveira (89), Maddison (90+4)
Referee: Robert Jones
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