Norwich City 6 Millwall 1
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Norwich City thumped Millwall 6-1 in a Boxing Day rout that maintained their Championship revival at Carrow Road.
Neil Adams’ buoyant squad followed up their 5-0 romp against Huddersfield and a battling point at Derby before Christmas with an emphatic display against a dire Lions’ outfit.
Steven Whittaker notched his second in two games before Cameron Jerome’s 12th of the season and two braces from Bradley Johnson and Gary Hooper sealed the win with Millwall’s Jermaine Easter slotting an 87th minute header to deny the Canaries a clean sheet.
Adams made one change to his starting line up with Alex Tettey (knee) absent. Nathan Redmond came in on the right with Jonny Howson switching inside to partner Gary O’Neil. Scottish midfielder Conor McGrandles earned a promotion to the substitutes’ bench as the Norwegian international missed out.
Jerome sliced wide 67 seconds into the game when he shrugged off Mark Beevers but slashed over from 10 yards. Strike partner Hooper was then flagged offside in the fifth minute after chesting home Whittaker’s cross but the early signs were positive for the Canaries.
Millwall continued to look vulnerable despite probing on the counter but Forde needed gathered Jerome’s near post header from another home foray.
Redmond’s strike was parried by Forde but span away from Jerome as the striker hunted a rebound seven yards out.
City’s weight of possession paid dividends in the 13th minute when Forde fumbled Whittaker’s angled shot over his line from eight yards out after the hosts worked a swift corner routine.
Norwich doubled their lead in the 18th minute, Forde culpable again, when his attempted pass to Matthew Briggs was cut out by Jerome who rounded the stranded keeper and rolled into an empty net.
Norwich’s top scorer blazed wide shortly after with another horrible slice from barely seven yards as the bizarre Boxing Day clash continued.
John Marquis’ deflected shot flew over at the opposite end in the midst of a calamitous opening quarter from the Lions.
Whittaker was adjudged to have held Marquis, which presented the visitors with a set piece chance, but Johnson’s vigilance nullified the threat from Beevers’ deep run.
Carlos Cuellar then ranged forward but was a yard from connecting with O’Neil’s near post corner before Jerome again found himself in the thick of the action with a miscued back heel five yards out that would have beaten Forde but for Beevers’ goal line intervention.
Ricardo Fuller was fouled by Cuellar 20 yards out in the closing stages of a half that was now meandering after the early fireworks but John Ruddy dropped on Shaun Williams’ low set piece.
Redmond’s close control and clever pivot earned the crowd’s appreciation, but Hooper over-hit the return in a sign of City’s growing lack of precision prior to the interval.
Howson injected some dynamism with a slaloming run through the heart of the Lions’ defence but his scuffed right-footed effort rolled wide.
Jerome was then denied by Beevers at the near post from Redmond’s burst with City picking up the pace in the final seconds.
Marquis forced a corner in the early moments of the second period but the concession owed much to Norwich’s sluggish start since the interval. Johnson headed clear to spark a counter which saw Hooper poke wide with Forde to beat 10 yards out.
Whittaker, suitably emboldened by his two goals in two games, worked a space with a back heel to lose Briggs but the rising shot flew into the home fans.
Norwich finally grabbed the third their football merited in the 54th minute when Hooper superbly turned away from his marker to advance and roll in the overlapping Johnson to crash a first time strike low past Forde from 20 yards.
Johnson followed up his Huddersfield brace with another for the collection in the 61st minute when he arrived unmarked at the far post to divert Redmond’s angled shot past Forde from point blank range.
Forde denied Howson in the 66th minute when the Yorkshireman left the Lions’ defence trailing his wake but the Irish keeper guessed correctly to divert around his right-hand post.
Wes Hoolahan marked his arrival for O’Neil with another assist following his cameo against the Terriers as Hooper calmly rifled past Forde at his near post following a burst from halfway.
Adams made his final change with 15 minutes still remaining to hand McGrandles a Norwich senior debut for two-goal midfielder Johnson.
Millwall’s search for scant consolation saw Easter swerve around Whittaker but lift over in the 81st minute. But the Lions’ perseverance paid off in the 87th minute when Easter headed home Williams’ free kick which Ruddy could only initally parry onto his bar.
There was still time for Hooper and Hoolahan to be denied by Forde from another surging breakout led by Whittaker before Hooper sealed the rout in the first seconds of stoppage time when he rolled past the grounded Forde from inside the six yard box.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Cuellar, Olsson, Howson, O’Neil (Hoolahan 66), Redmond, Johnson (McGrandles 76), Hooper, Jerome (Grabban 62). Subs (not used): Rudd, Turner, Lafferty, Bennett.
• Goals: Whittaker (13), Jerome (18), Johnson (54, 61), Hooper (69, 90)
• Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Briggs, Angel (Abdou 71), Williams, Marquis, Martin, Gueye (Easter 71), Fuller (Gregory 71). Subs (not used): King, Wilkinson, Upson, McDonald.
• Booking: Beevers (foul on Redmond, 72)
• Goal: Easter (87)
• Added on time: 2 minutes / 4 minutes
• Referee: Andy D’Urso (Essex)
• Attendance: 26,714