Norwich City 3 Derby County 0
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's new cult hero Nelson Oliveira plundered a hat-trick to thump 10-man Derby County and seal a pressure-relieving Championship win at Carrow Road.
The Canaries inflicted the Rams' first league defeat in their last 10 games, with the visitors' misery compounded by a red card for ex-Norwich midfielder Jacob Butterfield.
Oliveira smashed home a long range opener prior to the interval before a two-goal burst in two second-half minutes clinched a first win of 2017.
Alex Neil made another five changes from the New Year's Eve Championship draw at Brentford. Robbie Brady was banned after his red card at Griffin Park and Youssouf Mulumbu was unavailable as he prepares to link up with the DR Congo squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations. Brady started the first of a three-game ban after City's post-match appeal was rejected.
Martin Olsson came into a backline which reverted to a flat back four as Ryan Bennett dropped to bench. Jonny Howson, Jacob Murphy, Wes Hoolahan and Steven Naismith returned with Cameron Jerome and Alex Pritchard also dropping out of the XI who featured against the Bees.
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Derby chief Steve McClaren included former Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson for his competitive return to Carrow Road. Johnson's deflected strike separated the sides when they met in the East Midlands in November.
Naismith was adjudged to have barged over Johnson on just outside the Norwich penalty box inside the opening five minutes but Matej Vydra hooked the free kick wide.
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The Scottish sluggish start prompted a frustrated reaction from sections of the home support but Oliveira released the tension with a thumping low left-footed strike past Scott Carson from 25 yards.
Tom Ince's deflected free kick cleared Ruddy's bar at the opposite end as Derby tried to get back on level terms quickly.
Naismith's cushioned volley flew over in the 20th minute after an incisive break from Ivo Pinto and Oliveira. Hoolahan picked out Murphy just past the half hour mark but Carson was able to smother his shot.
The Irish midfielder then rolled a perfect reverse pass into Naismith who struck a low shot at Carson who was then forced to shovel behind Olsson's rising angled smack.
Alex Tettey then thumped a low shot against the foot of Carson's left-hand post in a potent spell for the hosts.
Oliveira surged forward seconds after the interval before clipping another left-footed shot over Carson which cannoned back into play against the Derby keeper's bar.
City continued to dictate possession, with Hoolahan prominent, and Russell Martin skied over in the 56th minute from another incisive burst from the Dubliner.
John Ruddy kept his side in front after Howson turned over the ball with a brilliant reaction stop to parry Ince's strike.
After two red cards for the Canaries over the festive period, Derby were reduced to 10 men when Butterfield lunged at Hoolahan in the 65th minute. Referee Bond consulted his assistant before sending off the midfielder.
Hoolahan returned after treatment and again instigated another probing move that ended with Murphy slashing wide.
The Republic of Ireland international took aim in the 77th minute from the edge of the area but the over-worked Carson pushed the ball around his post.
Oliveira moved centre stage to settle the game with a double salvo in two minutes to complete his hat-trick. Martin's deep cross was initially flicked on by Howson for Oliveira to re-direct the ball inside the far post from six yards before lashing a half-volley past Carson from just inside the edge of the area.
McClaren introduced ex-Ipswich striker Darren Bent, who was mercilessly booed by the home fans. Bent broke through in the closing stages but Ruddy preserved his clean sheet with a near post stop.
Oliveira departed to a standing ovation in stoppage time with Cameron Jerome and Alex Pritchard seeing out the win.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Pinto, Martin, Klose, Olsson, Tettey, Howson, Jacob Murphy, Naismith (Pritchard 90+2), Hoolahan, Oliveira (Jerome 90+2). Subs (not used): McGovern, Whittaker, Bassong, Bennett, Josh Murphy.
• Booking: Pinto (foul on Weimann, 81)
• Goals: Oliveira (15, 78, 80)
• Derby: Carson, Baird, Keogh, Pearce, Anya (Hanson 63), Johnson, Bryson, Butterfield, Ince (Bent 82), Russell (Weimann 45), Vydra. Subs (not used): Mitchell, Shackell, Rawson, Vernam.
• Bookings: Keogh (foul on Naismith, 41); Carson (dissent, 67)
• Sending Off: Butterfield (foul on Hoolahan, 66)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 3 minutes
• Referee: Darren Bond (Lancs)
• Attendance: 26,422