Lifting the tension was key for Norwich City chief Alex Neil at Millwall

Norwich manager Alex Neil greets former Millwall boss Ian Holloway. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus

Norwich manager Alex Neil greets former Millwall boss Ian Holloway. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Millwall may have owned the exclusive rights to angst and anger by the final whistle, but Alex Neil conceded it was Norwich City who looked tense in the opening skirmishes at The Den before moving through the gears.

City unleashed a four-goal burst either side of the interval to bounce back in style from a Wigan home league defeat. Jonny Howson rifled a left-footed shot past David Forde before Gary Hooper's penalty and Wes Hoolahan's composed finish put the visitors in command. Howson sealed the win with a tap-in from close range prior to Lee Gregory's late reply from the spot for the Lions.

'There was a wee bit of apprehension in the first half-an-hour. I could sense that and you could see how much it meant to the players early on,' said Neil. 'We know we are getting to the business end and you can't afford to slip up any more.'

Norwich's forward play had the ruthless edge so lacking a few days earlier, with Hooper and Cameron Jerome prominent in the absence of Lewis Grabban following ankle surgery. Hooper became the fourth Norwich player to reach double figures for the league campaign this season after his nerveless penalty in first-half stoppage time.

'It is important that we have a number of players getting goals but more important is our structure and ability to link the play, which teams are struggling to deal with,' said Neil. 'With Lewis out, the lads need to step up and that is what it takes but we will need it in every game between now and the end of the season. It is not enough just to do it on a one-off basis. They are going to have to continue to put in performances like that. It wasn't just the attacking play, I thought we worked a lot harder and our intensity was back in our game that was probably lacking at Wigan. All credit to the players. Now they have a couple of days off before we start to prepare for a big game (against Derby).'

City's only blemish was Millwall's late penalty success, when Gary O'Neil was adjudged to have felled Diego Fabbrini.

'Very soft, really soft,' said Neil. 'I was disappointed with that because we have prided ourselves on keeping clean sheets and our record has been good in terms of that. To concede a goal like that was disappointing because I didn't think we merited it.'

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