Norwich City 2 Middlesbrough 0: Norwich City’s best game of all time?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Tension can often affect the enjoyment of supporters at big occasions like a play-off final - but that certainly wasn't the case for City followers a little under two years ago when their side took on Middlesbrough at Wembley.
True, there was an anxious moment in the opening few minutes of the Championship's biggest match of the season as Boro's Jelle Vossen hit the crossbar from long range, not long after Bradley Johnson had done likewise for the Canaries.
But once City got their noses in front, and quickly added a second, there were precious few alarms for the 40,000-strong green and yellow army. In no way was it easy – but Norwich dictated proceedings to such an extent that Middlesbrough barely got a look in after the early drama as Alex Neil's men ensured their supporters could milk every last drop of enjoyment from their day out at the home of English football. Rarely does football ever get any better for a supporter than this. Even the weather was perfect!
The goal that set the tone for all that followed arrived in the 12th minute and came out on nowhere. Ex-Canary Daniel Ayala had all the time in the world to clear his lines just outside the box but he dithered and quick as a flash Cameron Jerome nipped in to dispossess him before beating keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos at his near post.
It was a really poor goal from Boro's point of view – but the second three minutes later was all about the brilliance of City's slick passing game.
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Clearly brimming with confidence, Neil's side knocked the ball around beautifully in the middle of the park before the ball found its way out to Steven Whittaker on the right flank,
The Scottish international spotted Nathan Redmond's run into the area and picked him out perfectly, with the winger swiftly working some space before finishing in emphatic style.
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What a goal and a what a time to score it!
They say 2-0 can be a dangerous score, especially with so long to play.
But that wasn't the case on this occasion as City gave an immaculate demonstration of good game management to book a return to the Premier League after just one season at a lower level.
The City fans could just sit back and enjoy the show.