Klose the hero as Canaries rescue point after sluggish start to New Year’s Day clash with Brentford
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City have shown their fighting spirit once again to shake off a sluggish first half and claim a 1-1 draw at Brentford.
Timm Klose was the hero in the 84th minute, forcing home a deflected header from a Mario Vrancic corner in front of over 1,600 travelling fans at Griffin Park.
Bees defender Julian Jeanvier had given the hosts a 22nd minute lead but Daniel Farke's high-flying team hit back to extend their unbeaten away run to 11 games – and bounce back from Saturday's 4-3 home loss to Derby.
With nearest rivals Leeds and West Brom both losing it proved to be a vital draw, leaving City two points adrift of top spot and two clear of third-placed Sheffield United.
Daniel Farke's decision to make no changes to his team looked to have been a mistake in an opening 45 minutes lacking energy from the Canaries, as the hosts dominated proceedings and deserved their 1-0 lead at the break.
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The Bees' 3-4-3 shape had City scrambling for much of the opening stages but it was Norwich with the best early chance, when Onel Hernandez exchanged a one-two with Teemu Pukki and Vrancic rolled a low shot beyond the far post in the eighth minute.
Within 60 seconds former Canaries winger Sergi Canos saw his cross deflect off Timm Klose's heels and bounce off the top of the crossbar.
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There was a penalty claim from Pukki in the 12th minute as Jeanvier appeared to clip his heels as he went through on goal, but referee Gavin Ward wasn't interested.
There was a blow in the 18th minute as Marco Stiepermann limped off injured but before he was replaced by Tom Trybull the hosts went close when Canos played Neal Maupay through, only for the French striker to thump wide.
Christoph Zimmermann became the first of three Norwich players booked for desperately halting Maupay soon after, with Klose and Max Aarons following suit before the break.
Brentford got the goal they deserved in the 22nd minute when Said Benrahma swung in a corner from the right and defender Julian Jeanvier powered home a header at the near post – adding another corner concession to City's two in the 4-3 defeat to Derby four days earlier.
The game settled from there, with Pukki charging down a kick from keeper Dan Bentley in the 42nd minute but the ball just falling short of Todd Cantwell.
Otherwise there were vital interceptions from Zimmermann and Aarons needed to thwart Maupay before the break as the Bees went in 1-0 ahead, with City's crucial injuries starting to tell.
That situation got even worse five minutes into the second half when Alex Tettey pulled up, with head coach Farke opting to make an attacking change and bring on Jordan Rhodes, switching to a 3-4-1-2 formation with Cantwell behind the strikers and Aarons moving to left wing-back.
City were thankful for a superb save from keeper Tim Krul in the 55th minute as well, when the Dutchman clawed away an overhead kick from Jeanvier, which Maupay also diverted slightly with his head, after his defence had failed to clear a free-kick.
There were signs of life from Norwich finally though, with Aarons testing Bentley with a shot from 15 yards after Hernandez had bundled his way into the box in the 68th minute and Vrancic clipping the outside of the post from a free-kick five minutes later.
There was a vital block from Trybull to deny Bees substitute Ollie Watkins in the 76th minute, after the forward had skipped away from Klose on the edge of the box, with the shot going behind for a corner which was cleared.
And the Canaries found a way back, through a corner of their own, Klose getting to Vrancic's set-piece from the left and powering his header in with the help of a couple of deflections at the near post.
From then it was all out for the win from both sides, with Trybull seeing a shot well saved by Bentley and Krul again doing well to save a shot from Maupay, punching clear at full stretch.
But there was one last chance for the visitors, when Trybull set Pukki free down the left, the striker cut back and substitute Dennis Srbeny had the chance to fire at goal and be the hero – only to tamely roll wide.
Norwich return to action on Saturday when they take a break from league action and host Portsmouth in the FA Cup third round (5.30pm kick-off).
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Klose, Godfrey; Tettey (C – Rhodes 51), Vrancic, Cantwell (Srbeny 83), Stiepermann (Trybull 19), Hernandez; Pukki. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Hanley, Pinto, Marshall
Booked: Zimmermann (foul on Barbet, 20), Aarons (foul on Maupay, 45), Klose (foul on Maupay, 45+3)
Goals: Klose (84)
Brentford: Bentley; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Dalsgaard, Sawyers (McEachran 80), Mokotjo, Henry; Canos (Watkins 62), Maupay, Benrahma (Judge 75). Unused subs: Daniels (GK), Odubajo, Sorensen, Da Silva
Booked: Sawyers (unclear, 24), Henry (foul on Hernandez, 66), Dalsgaard (unclear, 87), Watkins (foul on Klose, 90)
Goals: Jeanvier (22)
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey)
Attendance: 9,524 (1,641 away)