Norwich City 7 Reading 1
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City dismantled Reading with a 7-1 Championship hammering at Carrow Road.
The Canaries marked the arrival of new sporting director Stuart Webber in style, scoring six goals in the first half of a league game for the first time since 1908 and the first time ever at Carrow Road, to pummel the play-off chasing Royals.
Nelson Oliveira opened the floodgates with a third minute penalty before braces from Wes Hoolahan, Alex Pritchard and Russell Martin's strike put them well out of sight prior to the interval. Yann Kermorgant did reply in a crazy first half but Cameron Jerome had the final say two minutes from time.
Alan Irvine, who was confirmed in post as interim boss until the end of the current season on Friday night, made a total of six changes from the line up that were hammered at Huddersfield. John Ruddy replaced Michael McGovern with Ryan Bennett and Steven Whittaker dropping out for Ivo Pinto and Mitchell Dijks, who returned from suspension. Jacob Murphy and fit-again Wes Hoolahan were preferred to Yanic Wildschut and Steven Naismith with Oliveira leading the line in place of Cameron Jerome.
The Royals' line up featured on-loan striker Lewis Grabban on his first return to Carrow Road since leaving the Canaries in January 2016.
City got the perfect start from the penalty spot when Oliveira thumped home a third minute penalty after being bundled over attempting to slot Jonny Howson's rebound, spilled by Ali Al-Habsi.
Ruddy's handling was secure to grasp Kermorgant's free kick at the other end.
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Oliveira's curling effort had Al-Habsi beaten but drifted wide of the far post after a spell of Reading pressure. Hoolahan's vision and deft touch triggered City's second goal. Jacob Murphy coolly reversed a low cross into the box the Royals failed to clear and the late-arriving Hoolahan lifted a close range strike into the roof of the net.
Pritchard came to the party in the 26th minute with a dipping half-volley from 20 yards that caught out Al-Habsi.
Reading simply were unable to stem the flow but City scented blood. Martin rifled a fourth when Al-Habsi parried Oliveira's hit and celebrated like a man fed up with the barrage of criticism that had came his way and his team mates since the midweek mauling at Huddersfield.
Pritchard held off a tame challenge to guide a left-footed shot past Al-Habsi before Reading replied when Kermorgant pounced after Ruddy had foiled Grabban.
But the harassed Al-Habsi failed to deal with Hoolahan's angled effort that allowed the grounded Irishman to hook a sixth for Norwich to cap a remarkable first half at Carrow Road.
Jaap Stam sent the same personnel back out for the second period and Ruddy was pressed into service in the 54th minute to tip over John Swift's long range strike.
Jacob Murphy's impudent back heel dropped wide of the near post but underlined the confidence surging through the hosts.
Pritchard went close to his hat-trick in the 65th minute with an angled shot that veered wide. Al-Habsi denied first Jacob Murphy and then Timm Klose as City looked for a final flourish.
Dijks' thumped a header against the Reading bar seconds after Josh Murphy had replaced Pritchard, who departed to a standing ovation.
Steven Naismith and Jerome were the final introductions and Jerome capped his brief cameo with a close range finish to complete the rout.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Pinto, Martin, Klose, Dijks, Howson, Tettey, Jacob Murphy, Pritchard (Josh Murphy 81), Hoolahan (Naismith 87), Oliveira (Jerome 87). Subs: (not used): McGovern (GK), Whittaker, Wildschut, Bennett.
• Booking: Jacob Murphy (dissent, 88)
• Goals: Oliveira (3), Hoolahan (15, 41), Pritchard (26, 35), Martin (31), Jerome (89)
• Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Swift (Gravenberch 80), McCleary, Moore, Kermorgant, Blackett (Watson 61), Oxford, Kelly, Grabban, Mutch (Obita 52). Subs (not used): Jaakkola (GK), Mendes, Williams, Popa.
• Bookings: Moore (foul on Howson, 59); Obita (dissent, 88)
• Goal: Kermorgant (39)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 1 minute
• Referee: James Linnington (Newport)
• Attendance: 26,163