Derby County 1, Norwich City 2
Norwich City gave more than 2,200 travelling fans an early Christmas present with their fourth Championship away win of the season – one that took them above opponents Derby County.
All three goals came in the space of six minutes of a lively first half at a bitterly cold Pride Park.
A Shaun Barker own goal gave City the lead in the 11th minute when he diverted a shot by David Fox past his own goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, Chris Martin made it 2-0 when he headed home from Simon Lappin's cross.
Derby were back in the game with a goal from top scorer Kris Commons in the 17th minute, but despite the Rams dominating most of the second period, the Canaries held on - and both Chris Martin and skipper Grant Holt went close to scoring a third.
City's victory ended a run of six successive home wins by the Rams.
The one disappointment for City was a late yellow card for Holt, his fifth of the season, earning him a one-match ban for the visit of
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Portsmouth next Saturday.
There was one change for City after the 4-1 derby victory over Ipswich. With midfielder Andrew Surman ruled out until at least the
New Year because of an ankle injury, Wes Hoolahan – who scored after replacing him against Ipswich – returned to the starting line-up.
The spare place on the substitutes' bench went to midfielder Owain Tudur Jones, back from a three-month loan at Yeovil, whose last senior appearance for City came in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Swindon more than 12 months ago and who had yet to make a league appearance since Paul Lambert's arrival as manager.
Derby showed three changes with Commons back from illness and recalls for Gareth Roberts and Dean Leacock.
After a week of snow and ice, the pitch was completely clear and in good condition, while it was rain rather than snow that greeted City's travelling fans.
Lambert was watching from the stand, completing a two-match touchline ban.
Lansbury appeared to be playing in a more advance role behind the two strikers, with Fox at the base of the midfield four, guarding the back four.
City very nearly took the lead in the seventh minute when Lansbury met Lappin's cross with a firm header that goalkeeper Fielding parried, with Chris Martin's follow-up being blocked close to the line.
The Canaries won their first corner in the ninth minute when Chris Martin's free-kick was deflected wide, but Hoolahan's kick was easily cleared.
Defender Barnett then headed over from Holt's cross as City threatened again.
Their bright start was rewarded in the 11th minute when Fox's shot was diverted past goalkeeper Fielding.
A neat move involving Lansbury, Chris Martin, Hoolahan and Crofts led to Fox letting fly from long range and his shot took a deflection off Barker, before slipping through Fielding as he dived at his right-hand post.
It was 2-0 two minutes later when Chris Martin scored his sixth goal of the season.
Lappin crossed from the left and Martin's firm header was perfectly placed inside Fielding's right-hand post.
The Rams gave themselves a route back into the game in the 17th minute when a flick from Moore put Commons through and he beat Ruddy with a cool finish for his 11th goal of the season.
Crofts volleyed over after a Hoolahan free-kick had been blocked as City looked for a swift response.
Midway through the half, Ruddy's fine save from Green preserved City's lead. Commons put Green through and he looked favourite in a one-on-one but Ruddy clawed his shot away right-handed.
Brayford earned the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Holt, much to the annoyance of the home crowd.
City had the ball in the net on the half-hour when Lansbury headed in Hoolahan's cross, but the flag was up for offside.
Russell Martin then had a long-range effort deflected for a corner, Barnett heading wide from Hoolahan's kick.
Green looked dangerous and almost provided the equaliser 10 minutes before the interval when he gathered Commons' pass and turned inside Ward before curling a right-foot shot just off target.
Lappin earned a yellow card for baulking Cywka as he tried to get on the end of a Moore pass.
From the resulting free-kick, Commons' shot was deflected out for a corner. Cywka chipped a shot just over the top one minute before the interval. Green's 20-yard effort was an easy catch for Ruddy in first-half stoppage time.
• HALF-TIME: DERBY COUNTY 1, NORWICH CITY 2
A foul by Barnett gave Derby a free-kick five minutes after the interval, but Savage curled his right-foot shot wide.
Russell Martin was booked for a trip on Green, though there seemed minimal contact, Barker heading over from the resulting free-kick by Commons.
Goalkeeper Ruddy was then shown the yellow card for wasting time.
A mistake by Roberts almost cost Derby dear when his pass across his own penalty area was intercepted by Chris Martin, but as the striker tried to create room for a shot he went down under challenge from Leacock. Referee Stroud waved away his appeals for a penalty.
Lansbury earned his second booking in as many games as the official reached for the yellow card again after 61 minutes.
Brayford tried his luck from long range three minutes later but his left-foot drive was the wrong side of the post as Ruddy dived to his left.
A cross by Commons was flicked on by Moore to Green at the far post and his shot was saved by Ruddy at point-blank range, with the rebound deflecting off Moore for a goal-kick.
Brayford fired wide with another long-range effort as Derby enjoyed a spell on top.
There were Derby appeals for a penalty when Commons went down, but the referee was unmoved and as City broke, Hoolahan's pass found Chris Martin, who was denied a second goal when Fielding dived to block his low shot.
City made their first change with 14 minutes left when Korey Smith replaced Hoolahan.
Derby replaced skipper Savage with nine minutes left, Barker taking the armband.
Holt was agonisingly close to making it 3-1 when he juggled Russell Martin's free-kick and spun to hit a left-foot shot just over the top.
The ever-dangerous Commons could have levelled with seven minutes to go when he worked his way deep into Norwich territory but then shot wide.
Jackson replaced Chris Martin with five minutes left in City's second change.
Holt picked up a costly booking one minute later for stopping Derby taking a quick throw-in – it was his fifth yellow card, bringing a one-match ban.
Tudur Jones replaced Lansbury in the third minute of stoppage time.
• RESULT: DERBY COUNTY 1, NORWICH CITY 2
• Derby County: Fielding; Brayford, Barker, Leacock, Roberts; Bailey, Savage (Porter, 81); Cywka, Green, Commons; Moore.
Subs (not used): Bywater, Moxey, Pearson, Kuqi, Pringle, Doyle.
• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Ward, Lappin; Fox; Crofts, Hoolahan (Korey Smith, 76); Lansbury (Tudur Jones, 90); Chris Martin (Jackson, 85), Holt.
Subs (not used): Rudd, Nelson, McNamee, Johnson.
• Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
• Attendance: 26,134 (2,228 City fans)
• Goals: Derby: Commons (17). City: Barker (og, 11), Chris Martin (13)
• Bookings: Derby: Brayford (23). City: Lappin (37), Russell Martin (53), Ruddy (54), Lansbury (61), Holt (86)