Norwich City 5 Nottingham Forest 1
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City turned on the style to hammer 10-man Nottingham Forest and keep up the heat on the Championship top six at Carrow Road.
Alex Neil's side were rampant with a three-goal spell inside eight first-half minutes over-powering the Reds. Jonny Howson and Wes Hoolahan struck brilliant individual goals with Josh Murphy finishing a flowing team move prior to the interval.
Alex Pritchard was rewarded for another influential appearance with a second-half brace either side of a scant late consolation from Ross McCormack.
Neil made two changes from the starting line up that drew 2-2 at Wigan on Tuesday. Josh Murphy replaced Yanic Wildschut with the big money deadline night signing on the bench. Hoolahan also returned after being rested against the Latics with Cameron Jerome making way and Nelson Oliveira retaining his place against a former loan club. Wildschut's fellow Dutchman, Mitchell Dijks, made his home debut after two outings at Cardiff and Wigan.
Alex Tettey served the final game of his two-match suspension with Steven Naismith (hamstring), Graham Dorrans (knee) and Louis Thompson (Achilles) absentees.
Nottingham Forest loan signing, McCormack, was named on the Reds' bench against the club who pursued him last summer prior to the Scot joining Aston Villa.
Josh Murphy was upended by Daniel Pinillos but Youssouf Mulumbu hooked Pritchard's free kick wide with a swinging effort from the edge of the Forest penalty area.
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Howson volleyed Norwich in front 10 minutes with a superbly controlled finish from fully 20 yards that dipped over Stephen Henderson into the top corner.
City then carved open the visitors with a flowing team move finished calmly by Josh Murphy who drew Stephen Henderson and rolled underneath the advancing keeper at the near post.
There was even better to come when Hoolahan controlled Josh Murphy's aerial flick and embarrassed Henderson with a half-volley that arced over the stranded keeper from fully 30 yards.
That was Henderson's final involvement when he was stretchered off with what Reds' interim boss Gary Brazil confirmed afterwards was an Achilles injury. Henderson required oxygen as he left the field following prolonged treatment inside his six yard box following a desperate mid-air leap to try and keep out Hoolahan's superb strike.
Captain Russell Martin was convinced it should be four in the 34th minute when he towered above his marker but Zach Clough cleared his close range header off the Forest line. Referee Duncan waved away Martin's appeals his effort had crossed the line.
City survived another set piece concession in a rare attacking moment from the visitors a minute prior to the interval when Danny Fox's glancing header clipped the outside of John Ruddy's far post.
Clough skied over in the 54th minute with the Reds committing more men forward.
McCormack was introduced shortly after, to a suitably negative reaction from the home fans, before Steven Whittaker replaced Ivo Pinto. The Portuguese defender had been struggling for the previous 10 minutes after twisting awkwardly inside his own area.
City quelled any lingering prospect of a revival from the visitors when Pritchard burst into the box to square up Fox and rifle a low strike into the bottom corner from 16 yards.
Jack Hobbs bundled the ball home in the 65th minute but Britt Assombalonga was penalised for a challenge on Ruddy in the build up.
Dijks was replaced by Ryan Bennett for the final quarter, with Neil perhaps already thinking about Newcastle's midweek visit to Carrow Road.
The Reds' afternoon deteriorated even further when captain Lichaj was dismissed for hauling down Josh Murphy to pick up his second yellow card.
Wildschut was introduced for his home debut as Hoolahan made way in the final change for the hosts but it was McCormack who announced his arrival when he sneaked in behind the City backline to lift the ball over the advancing Ruddy.
Pritchard ensured City deservedly had the final say with a dipping left-footed effort from the edge of the area to seal the rout.
• Norwich: Ruddy; Pinto (Whittaker 58), Martin, Klose, Dijks (Bennett 69), Mulumbu, Howson, Josh Murphy, Pritchard, Hoolahan (Wildschut 73), Oliveira. Subs: (not used): McGovern (GK), Jerome, Jacob Murphy, Godfrey.
• Booking: Whittaker (foul on Tshibola, 73)
• Goals: Howson (10), Josh Murphy (16), Hoolahan (18), Pritchard (61, 89)
• Nottingham Forest: Henderson (Smith 23), Lichaj, Hobbs, Fox, Pinillos, Vaughan, Tshibola, Clough, Osborn, Ward (McCormack 56), Assombalonga (Lam 71). Subs (not used): Carayol, Cash, Worrall, Brereton.
• Bookings: Lichaj (foul on Hoolahan, 45); Hobbs (foul on Oliveira, 50); Tshibola (foul on Pinto, 56)
• Sending off: Lichaj (foul on Josh Murphy, 70)
• Goal: McCormack (75)
• Time added on: 7 minutes / 5 minutes
• Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)
• Attendance: 26,831