Alex Neil admitted Norwich City had to endure a rough start before swatting aside Derby County

Nelson Oliveira was the first Norwich City player to score a hat-trick at Carrow Road since Gary Hoo

Nelson Oliveira was the first Norwich City player to score a hat-trick at Carrow Road since Gary Hooper in 2015. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil conceded Norwich City had to survive a fraught Carrow Road opening to triumph 3-0 against 10-man Derby County in Monday's Championship cruise.

City's wretched run in the past two months produced a tense early atmosphere, fanned by some wayward passing from the hosts, but Nelson Oliveira opened the scoring to release the tension and completed his hat-trick after the interval to secure a merited win.

'I think everybody could feel the tension,' said Neil. 'I wouldn't even describe it as pressure because it is what it is but the animosity leading up to the game you could sense in the first 10 minutes if it wasn't quite going to go our way the fans were going to turn. Thankfully the boys put in an excellent performance and to be fair to the fans they could enjoy it in the second half. Everyone shares those frustrations because of how poorly we have been doing. I haven't done anything different today in terms of set-up to most of the other games. Brentford was different but what happens is I had 11 lads who got the better of their opposite number and they are more than capable of doing that regularly.

'Those first 10 minutes I thought we started tentatively. You could sense the tension with the crowd and that bred into the players. From then onwards I thought it was a great performance. If you look at the start we weren't losing tackles or headers, it was giving basic passes away and as soon as the first groan came from the first misplaced pass you could see the lads tighten up a bit. I think Nelson's goal calmed things and they went and played how we know they can.'

City's first win of 2017 moved them up to ninth, five points outside the play-offs.

'Football is a strange game. Two months ago I was manager of the month and then there was a witch hunt around me. Football changes really quickly,' said Neil. 'We have played really well here. Brentford was a step in the right direction. We had five or six great chances and we should have won the game. We needed to take it a step further today and win the game and marry it up with a really good performance. Now we need to build on it. We are ninth now, only five points off the play-offs and half a season left to play so plenty for us to play for.'