Norwich City 2 Sheffield United 2: Canaries forced to settle for a point in Blades' Championship promotion clash
PUBLISHED: 17:04 26 January 2019 | UPDATED: 18:59 26 January 2019
Norwich City were pegged back twice by Billy Sharp’s brace in a pulsating 2-2 Championship draw against Sheffield United at Carrow Road.
Onel Hernandez finished a superb team move in the 11th minute for the perfect start for Daniel Farke’s side.
Sharp levelled from the penalty spot in the final seconds of the opening period, afte Emi Buendia bundled over Enda Stevens.
Teemu Pukki’s 17th league strike of the season edged Norwich back in front but the predatory Sharp responded with a far post header in the promotion shoot-out.
Farke named an unchanged starting line up and bench after Buendia was passed fit following a dead leg injury in the previous home win over Birmingham.
Hernandez signalled his intent with a fizzing half volley United keeper Dean Henderson shovelled behind. City sliced through the Blades with a superb team goal in the 11th minute. The ball was switched at blurring speed from back to front before Mario Vranic and Pukki combined to roll in the late arriving Hernandez who coolly slotted beyond the advancing Henderson.
Norwich continued to press but Emi Buendia’s first time effort lacked the power to trouble the visiting keeper.
Vrancic rose at the back post in the 19th minute but under pressure miscued his header from Buendia’s corner.
Keiren Dowell sliced wide at the opposite end with the Blades warming to the task and both Sharp and Gary Madine causing the home backline problems.
Tom Trybull’s brave blocked thwarted Madine although the midfielder required treatment in the aftermath.
Madine then tumbled after appearing to be clipped by Christoph Zimmermann in the Norwich penalty area, but referee Linnington gave the centre back the benefit of the doubt.
Buendia drifted past two Sheffield United defenders in the 40th minute but Henderson and John Egan shut the door at the near post.
But the Argentine was then punished for a rash challenge that felled Enda Stevens in the final seconds of stoppage time prior to the interval, as Stevens darted behind Max Aarons towards the byline.
Tim Krul was booked for delaying the spot kick but Sharp made no mistake when he rifled his penalty pas the Dutchman.
Sharp headed Chris Basham’s hooked far post cross against Krul’s bar moments after the restart in another warning for the hosts.
Egan then thumped Oliver Norwood’s free kick over in a bright start from Wilder’s men.
John Fleck clubbed a shot from 20 yards wide after City were exposed again, much to the frustration of the home fans.
But as so often this season, when Norwich needed a spark Pukki provided it. Trybull clipped a pass out to Aarons who cut the ball back for the Finnish predator to whip a delightful shot across his body into the opposite corner from 14 yards.
But Krul flung himself to his right to claw out Madine’s screamer straight after the restart.
Wilder made a double substitution, which saw former Ipswich striker David McGoldrick introduced to a suitably hostile reception.
McGoldrick fired over in the 72nd minute as Zimmermann closed in. But the visitors levelled in the 79th minute when that man Sharp pulled off the back of the City captain to despatch Mark Duffy’s inviting cross from the right.
Farke made his first move from the substitutes’ bench in the 88th minute with a double change that saw Todd Cantwell and Jordan Rhodes introduced.
But City were unable to muster one of those famous last salvoes which have rapidly become a trademark of the campaign.
• Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis, Trybull, Vrancic, Buendia (Cantwell 88), Stiepermann (Rhodes 89), Hernandez, Pukki. Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Passlack, Hanley, McLean, Srbeny.
• Bookings: Krul (unsporting behaviour, 45); Trybull (time-wasting, 77); Zimmermann (foul on Fleck, 86)
• Goals: Hernandez (11), Pukki (57)
• Sheffield United: Henderson, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham, Dowell (Duffy 60), Sharp (Washington 90), Egan, Madine (McGoldrick 60), Norwood. Subs (not used): Moore (GK), Coutts, Stearman, Johnson.
• Bookings: Basham (foul on Pukki, 82); Duffy (foul on Stiepermann, 86)
• Goals: Sharp (45, 79)
• Time added on: 3 minutes / 5 minutes
• Referee: James Linnington (Newport)
• Attendance: 26,844