Middlesbrough 4, Norwich City 0
21:43 04 November 2014
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Norwich City crashed to a fourth Championship defeat of the season on Tuesday night against a rampant Middlesbrough on a wretched evening at the Riverside Stadium.
The Canaries were embarrassingly second best for the most part on Teesside as they crashed to their heaviest defeat of the league campaign.
Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford headed the hosts in front inside the opening five minutes before Grant Leadbitter slotted a 33rd minute penalty after Russell Martin was adjudged to have shoved George Friend.
Leadbitter then raced through unattended after the interval to glance a looping header over John Ruddy before Yanic Wildschut completed the rout.
Neil Adams named an unchanged line up and substitutes’ bench from Friday’s 2-1 Championship win over Bolton at Carrow Road. Gary O’Neil retained his place against his former club where he spent four years on Teeside.
City old boy Dani Ayala was in the Boro line up for Aitor Karanka’s side, who started the game third in the table a point clear of the Canaries.
O’Neil tried to get Steven Whittaker in down the right inside the opening minute but Friend had read the danger from the Scot’s probing foray.
Ryan Fredericks lashed over at the opposite end after a rapier counter from the hosts in a signal of the pain the hosts were about to inflict. Kyle Lafferty veered in from the right but the Northern Irishman was not on the same wavelength as Jonny Howson.
City were then sliced open down their right flank in the fifth minute when Albert Adomah raced beyond Whittaker to produce a cut-back despatched by Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford with a stooping header six yards out.
Nathan Redmond forced a corner out of Ayala with a slaloming run at the centre of the Boro defence.
Martin Olsson then got the wrong side of Fredericks but stumbled at the crucial moment as he tried to service Cameron Jerome.
Dimi Konstantopoulos was finally pressed into action with a low one-handed parry to deny O’Neil with City focusing on the Boro right.
Jerome wildly miscued following a similarly haphazard attempt by Alex Tettey but the pattern already appeared set in the early sparring; City dominating territory and possession and Middlesbrough looking for more success on the counter.
Lafferty then lashed Whittaker’s cross over as Adams urged his players on from the front of his technical area.
Whittaker got much closer to Adomah in the 23rd minute when Bamford’s reverse pass arrowed towards the wide player at the far post.
The Scottish international then picked out Michael Turner who had escaped Ayala’s attentions but headed over from seven yards.
City’s patient passing lacked the penetration to trouble the Boro backline, with Jerome’s movement indicative of a frontman desperate for swift raiding parties in contrast to the pedestrian build up along the Canaries’ back four.
Norwich’s evening deteriorated further just past the half-hour mark when Martin was adjudged to have eased Friend off the ball tight to the Norwich byline after Whittaker failed to clear the initial hanging punt forward.
Boro skipper Leadbitter coolly sent Ruddy the wrong way from the penalty spot to double the hosts’ advantage and only Olsson’s despairing dive foiled Kike before Bamford blazed over.
Adams reacted by switching Lafferty into a central position as Howson moved into the space vacated by the ex-Rangers’ man, but City looked no less threatening in the closing stages of a desperate opening period.
Gary Hooper replaced Tettey at the interval which meant another switch for Lafferty and Howson moving inside alongside O’Neil.
Konstantopoulos was coaxed to his feet by the referee after a heavy challenge from Jerome trying to attack Nathan Redmond’s deep cross before Adomah departed barely three minutes into the second period.
Redmond then linked intelligently with Jerome but the striker’s rising shot flew into the rows of empty red seats.
Hooper drew a foul from Ben Gibson 25 yards out but O’Neil’s set piece had the home fans ducking for cover before Josh Murphy made his entrance for Lafferty.
The unmarked Ayala headed over Adam Reach’s whipped cross at the far post then Leadbitter’s rasping drive was deflected behind despite Ruddy’s protests he had not diverted the low shot behind.
Ruddy did get a strong hand to parry Gibson’s raking long range hit with Boro looking to put the contest well beyond City’s reach around the hour mark.
Turner then foiled Kike with a last ditch block with much of City’s defensive work exhibiting the same levels of desperation as prior to the interval.
Boro slotted the third their second half domination merited in the 69th minute when Leadbitter ran off the back of the City defence loop a glancing header from Lee Tomlin’s floated pass over Ruddy from nine yards.
Wildshut completed the rout five minutes from time when he stabbed home a corner Ruddy spilled inside his six yard box.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Friend, Ayala, Gibson, Fredericks, Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah (Reach 48), Bamford (Vossen 74), Tomlin, Kike (Wildschut 68). Subs (not used): Mejias, Nsue, Whitehead, Omeruo.
• Bookings: Leadbitter (foul on Jerome, 43); Clayton (foul on Whittaker, 61);
• Goals: Bamford (5), Leadbitter (33, 69), Wildschut (85)
• Norwich City: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson, O’Neil, Tettey (Hooper 45), Redmond, Howson, Lafferty (Murphy 57), Jerome (Grabban 78). Subs (not used): Rudd, Cuellar, Johnson, Miquel.
• Bookings: Jerome (foul on Friend, 72); Martin (foul on Reach, 88); Murphy (90)
• Added on time: 2 minutes / 3 minutes
• Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)
• Attendance: 16,468 (554 away fans)